It was nauseating watching Speaker de Venecia, Zubiri, Teodoro and Villafuerte and company on TV trying to turn the tables on a public baying for their blood.
Last night Ellen Tordesillas gave the lowdown on what would happen today, and it happened. The President did an about-face, blinked, and pulled away from the House.Renato Constantino Jr. was kicked out of the press conference -old congressional habits die har, as Villafuerte’s bellowing at Constantino showed.
What the Speaker did was not quite throw in the towel or adopt a proposal for a Constitutional Convention completely. They’ve only provisionally done so (the House leadership). In truth, nothing has changed from their position from last Thursday: they said they’d give the Senate three days to participate or not, in a Constituent Assembly. Now, they’re trying to deflect attention by calling what the think is the Senate’s bluff, by saying Senate should now move on a Constitutional Convention. But -and this is how we see the House leadership’s true colors- if the Senate does not do what the House leadership wants, within the House’s deadline, then the House will go ahead and do what it wanted to do -go it alone.
This is a classic demonstration of the Five Stages of Grief but it’s up to you to decide which stage the House is in.
The political gamble here seems simple enough: deflect public outrage by trying to pin the problem created by the House, on the Senate; try to deflate gathering public opposition not just in Metro Manila but the provinces (I’ve just returned from Bacolod and was amazed by the ferocity of outrage over what the House has been doing); prevent the House being besieged by protesters on Monday or Tuesday and Luneta and public plazas in Visayas and Mindanao being filled with indignant people next Friday; divide public opinion by dangling a reformist statement while hoping no one notices they haven’t really changed their minds or intentions.
Just as the House has tried to flout every reasonable principle of parliamentary behavior and our legislative system, they’re doing it with their proposal. The House can never, ever, under any circumstances, impose a time limit on a co-equal branch; and an appeal for urgency in this regard, rings hollow when almost at the same breath, the appeal is combined with a threat.