The Philippine Star reports the President has agreed to elect a parliament in 2007, after the new Constitution is ratified next year (the blogosphere scoop for this story, apparently, belongs to News Boy). No ifs and buts about it. This means, if it’s true, that after saber-rattling aimed at former president Ramos, perhaps the Palace has decided to cave in. It also means: no impeachment next year. It also means, unless the Senate suddenly caves in, a constitutional crisis as the House will attempt to ram through amendments on its own: the scuttlebutt is, the Constitutional Consultative Commission will submit its proposals to Congress in January; Speaker de Venecia will declare that Congress (specifically, the House of Representatives) is now a Constituent Assembly; the Senate will protest; amendments will be introduced anyway; the Speaker will bring the issue to the Supreme Court… Now how the Supreme Court would vote is another question: but this looming Constitutional crisis is something the lawyers should be preparing for, I think.
The way to derail the de Venecia plan would be to push the candidacy of Rep. Prospero Pichay, but if the Star story has it right, Ramos and de Venecia have had some sort of showdown with the President, and she blinked. Then again, Sun-Sar Cebu reports that some congressmen still think the Speaker should watch his back.
On the other hand, the Daily Tribune goes to town (as it usually does) with a supposed administration security briefing document that outlines the following scenarios:
(1) resignation; (2) leave of office; (3) national government of solidarity, with subheads of Ã¢â‚¬Å“power sharingÃ¢â‚¬Â which would Ã¢â‚¬Å“also dissipate the credibility of the opposition;Ã¢â‚¬Â (4) creeping governance, and (5) revolt from within.
(Wonder what a “revolt from within” means? Read my entry on the idea of an autogolpe: you’d think the Palace people read my blog!)
Divide and Conquer, essentially, is what Manila Times columnist (and ABS-CBN Interactive Editor-in-Chief) Dan Mariano says is the Palace strategy with respect to the President’s using Philippine Daily Inquirer Mon Tulfo as a blunt weapon against ABS-CBN:
If Mrs. Arroyo believes that Babao had compromised national security or otherwise violated the law, shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t she have ordered her underlings to initiate legal proceedings against the TV reporter?
Instead, she served up raw intelligenceÃ¢â‚¬â€that other quarters would have quickly dismissed as unverified chismisÃ¢â‚¬â€to spice up a lunch date with a columnist.
Neither the Inquirer nor ABS-CBN can be described as sympathetic to the Arroyo administration. Were the “disturbing” allegations against one of the networkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reporters, which the PDI bannered, part of an attempt to split the ranks of the free media?
Incidentally, Mariano points to Newsstand’s take on the issue. As Newsstand puts it,
It is “very disturbing” that an intel report can go all the way up the chain of command powered by nothing more than a sighting and a charge of speculation. It is “very disturbing” that the commander-in-chief raises the issue of media collusion with alleged terrorists using nothing more than a flimsy report. Above all, it is “very disturbing” that, to appropriate the unfortunate terms Danga himself used, the Palace now seems ready, using nothing more than a single, speculative source, to provoke that “confrontation” with the media.
The President, Mon Tulfo, Julius Babao, the Inquirer, ABS-CBN, and finally Dan Mariano and Jon Neri: politics meets media, which in turn has old media embracing the new.
There’s more: ABS-CBN got into trouble again for reporting that the Secretary of Justice received information that Gen. Voltaire Gazmin, head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during President Aquino’s time, had approached the PSG recently with an eye to causing trouble. One faithful reader of this blog (see his comment) felt ABS-CBN had been caught with its pants down peddling an outright lie; but then comes this story in the Manila Times:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never named anyone, I am surprised to hear that report,Ã¢â‚¬Â Gonzalez said in an interview on ANCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dateline new program. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unfair to me and unfair to the person.Ã¢â‚¬Â
GonzalezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s denial came after abs-cbnNEWS.com reported a former PSG official who was allegedly linked to the recruitment of the PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s guards. The report was based on an interview Gonzalez had with DZMM on Tuesday morning.
Although he mentioned a certain Ã¢â‚¬Å“General Gazmin,Ã¢â‚¬Â Gon zalez said he could not confirm information about former military generals being linked to destabilization efforts against the President.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I cannot make that confirmation, because my information is raw,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
So what the Secretary of Justice basically said was that he heard something, but the information was “raw,” but at the same time nothing new, so he says what he said is something he has been saying all along, though he doesn’t say it’s Gospel truth… But if the PSG says they’re clean, then he’s happy, but still insists he;s right:
Brig. Gen. Delfin Bangit, PSG chief, had denied GonzalezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement. He said none of the PSG men had been approached by any opposition member.
Gonzalez praised the statement of the PSG.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is a good indication. But I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree that no attempts [will be made to recruit from the PSG], because we know that the retired officials who oppose the President are really trying to influence [the military],Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Mindanao and Old Suspicions is my Arab News column for this week. The punditocracy has the Inquirer editorial (taking its cue from this article) taking the President’s family to task for trying to evade land reform. Michael Tan has a charming column on Filipino burial and funeral practices. Greg Macabenta muses on the difficulties of being an overseas voter.
The blogosphere has Jove Francisco recounting the President’s visit to the cemetery; an englishman in osaka is surprised by a phallic air freshener. Washington Note tackles the crumbling of Senate Republicans and the rising star of the Senate Democrats.