The question for some time has been: what rabbit could the President pull out of her hat come State of the Nation Day? After having packed the galleries with local governments supporters, and saying the Constitution had to be changed, could she afford to appear before Congress a year later with the Cha-Cha express in shambles?
Previously, the announcement of a state visit to the new pope, the king of Spain and Qaddafi in Libya, indicated that the SONA theme might be respectability: a year after her troubles, the President could brag she’s the only leader Filipinos trust not to sip from the finger bowl in state functions. Also, up to then, economic figures seemed pretty good.
But it seems that local officials were already seduced into thinking they’d be scott-free in terms of the terms expiring in 2007. And that perhaps other considerations that mattered in July last year (promises of assistance, pork barrel, etc.) matter less so a year later. Whatever the reason (or was it simply all a tactical pause?), the President’s SONA seems poised to be: going great guns for Charter change.
Besides trotting out former President Ramos to show party unity, and involving state colleges and universities in the campaign,Ã‚Â the President is playing a card she’s best poised to play: Federalism. While actions such as proclaiming she’s prepared to re-organize economic planning around super-regions (embryo Federal states in a way) paint the Federal landscape in big, bold strokes, nothing’s definite or sure.
Still, she can go and consult the provinces and by so doing, show how she’s cultivated them more thoroughly and well than the rest of the national leadership. Never mind if students heckled her again.
Amando Doronila puts it bluntly: no prisoners will be taken, and if she wins the referendum, the President is in power until -get this- 2020.