As for the title of this entry: Whenever Ferdinand Marcos surprised people, they would exclaim it was another case of Marcosian “political jujitsu.” He was always very good at doing what people least expected, not least because those supposedly in the know presumed it was impossible, inconceivable, or unthinkable.
As I pointed out after the 2005 State of the Nation Address, the President’s wrapping herself in the mantle of constitutional change did the whole effort a profound disservice. It has sparked public skepticism and hostility to both the purpose and details of the proposals being made. Furthermore, it ties Congress to the apron strings of the President and their future to hers. But congressmen well know presidents come and go. So what to do?
A couple of weeks ago, talking to Rep. Teddy Locsin, Jr., he said his colleagues resented the Presidential Commission for Charter Change, intended to reject its proposals, and didn’t look upon the “people’s initiative” with favor. But the problem was the inability of the House to work things out with the Senate, which had a united stance in favor of constitutional change through an elected convention -and which rejected the idea proposed by the House, that the 2/3 majority for approving amendments to be submitted to the people, should be determined by counting the members of both houses.
So now, it’s time to pay the piper. Poised as they are to dismiss, with finality, the surviving impeachment complaint, the House has announced it intends to seize the initiative and attend to constitutional change.
What are the options for the House, or both chambers in Congress assembled?
The House can finally muster enough votes to equal 2/3 of the entire composition of both houses of Congress, and attempt to bypass the Senate in approving amendments to be submitted to the electorate in a plebiscite. This is risky, because it could provoke a Constitutional crisis, and further strengthen the hand of the President. I suspect both the House and the Senate -the true beneficiaries, in the long run, of a parliamentary system- have been antagonized by the President, do not trust her, and do not want to keep themselves tied to her any longer than they have to.
Or, for the sake of peace, and a less extreme interpretation of the Constitution, the House can convince the Senate to pass the following:
a) by a 2/3 majority in each chamber, call for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention in 2007;
b) by a simple majority vote in each chamber, call for the electorate to be asked a question in the 2007 elections: “Do you want a Constitutional Commission to be appointed?”
The first is more difficult to achieve than the second; the second is easier to achieve, more novel, and opens up the opportunity to blunt the “people’s initiative” people by offering them seats in the Commission to be appointed. It offers up the possibility of a more plausible result, than if the “people’s initative” were to push through, and a referendum on its proposals becomes a referendum of sorts on the administration.
In other news, the President’s decision to establish a commission to investigate political killings comes in for predictable flak. Appeals are being made to keep the body credible. Columnist Luis Teodoro explains what, in the light of previous presidential commissions, would make for a credible process.
The question of the alleged German bank account of the First Family is interesting, part of a larger trend of placing the financial activities of the President and her husband under scrutiny. So the opposition asks for a waiver; the President’s son says he’d rather fly first class to Germany with the opposition to verify the existence of the account. But wouldn’t the money have been transfered by now, with the news?
Here’s something I’ve long wondered about: why hasn’t the use of vegetable oils for diesel vehicles, not received more official support?
In Taiwan: things getting uglier in the case of a besieged president.
In the punditocracy, the Inquirer editorial sets out the paper’s editorial position and hopefully, puts to an end to the controversy. Whether readers will agree is a different matter altogether. (Mamutong says it reminds him of things he used to hear in the Old South).
The Business Mirror editorial is on the impact of Executive Order 556 on foreign investments.
John Mangun says nuclear power for the Philippines should be reconsidered.
Tony Abaya on the wonders of the internet.
In the blogopshere, this blog entry in EpoyzBlog moved me greatly. Read his wistful thoughts on Patricia Evangelista.
james jimenez, who is with the Comelec, expresses his opinions on constitutional change.
Final roundup on the Justice Cruz debate: tristantrakand think the Inquirer editorial was a cop-out. Now What, Cat, doesn’t like the manner in which the debate’s been conducted. The Composed Gentleman, as well as Kaltehitze look at noth sides; spreading the sky, as well as Random Lives of Empress Maruja and keishiko and I’m a Devil in Haste or Inventing Memory don’t see merit in the Justice’s views; voyages sans movement is generally skeptical of the Inquirer and GMA network; Red’s Herring says this is a test of the Fourth Estate’s accountability to its readers; Calm Before the Storm cancels his subscription; interesting observations We All Need A Philosophy, shinydiscoball believes in collective action, and there’s the Sassy Lawyer.