In discussions over recent days, some ideas have ended up widely discussed: here’s the substance of some discussions I’ve had.
1. The President: what is her end goal? In the past, there were more who felt it was to step down in 2010. My view is, she can never afford to. Also, some argued she wasn’t emotionally, politically, and financially invested in charter change. Contrary view: she has to engineer it sooner rather than later, because she cannot step down, and needs to firm up her control and ability to succeed herself as 2010 approaches. If she doesn’t have constitutional change by 2007, once the mid-term elections take place she’s a lame duck, and it’s open season on her, forcing her no choice but to step down or impose martial law (which wouldn’t be good for her public relations).
President doesn’t want elections. Neither does the Speaker who may lose his seat. Both would receive a bad political blow from failing to achieve constitutional changes before the May elections. The Speaker knows full well, though, that if push comes to shove, the President has more options than he. So while he pushed for a constituent assembly in the past, to gain credit for a shift to the parliamentary system, now, he has to push forward the so-called people’s initiative. The President’s pet party, Kampi, is reportedly fed up with a House dominated by Lakas veterans since the Ramos years. It’s their turn, their time in the sun -under their leader, the President, and not the Speaker. Seems Prospero Pichay’s revised proposal, which he and his partymates want adopted “by substitution,” to replace the Jaraulla amendments, would maintain the Speaker, and fuse the offices of President and Prime Minister.
One option to keep the peace, so Speaker de Venecia can fight another day and the President doesn’t have to tip her hand too early: postpone the elections to November from May, which gives wiggle room (if no one gets upset by postponement, then the postponement can be postponed). It all depends on the Supreme Court: for or against so-called people’s initiative? If it decides for it, we go to a plebiscite in January or February 2007, which government will win. If it decides against it, the House might make an attempt to force the issue, also resulting in a plebiscite in January, or February or even March.
But election fever sets in for the political class by November or December, as candidacies must be filed by February (for local positions) or March (for national positions).
My view: if a plebiscite is held, it will expend people’s energies so no one will be in the mood to really care about an election. If a plebiscite doesn’t take place, there must be elections.
Either way: a plebiscite and an election requires a cooperative Comelec, and what better way than for Ombudsman to give everyone in the Comelec a get out of jail card.