Last Sunday I asked Mon Casiple his fearless forecast before the rally started. A very circumspect man, he answered me by saying he saw three possibilities:
1. If attendance was disappointing, the administration would suddenly rediscover its courage and renew the push for constitutional amendments.
2. If attendance met expectations, then everyone could look forward to the May elections and take it from there.
3. If attendance exceeded expectations, the President would begin negotiations leading to her retirement.
The President proved Mr. Casiple right, with this statement:
There are three realities we face as a nation: one, that the people accept the need for Charter change to overhaul the system; two, that there is a need for a unified national consensus on the means and timetable; and three, that this is a platform commitment of the administration that will be pursued with urgency and fervor.
These realities will continue to shape our actions for the better future of the Philippines – working closely and inclusively with all stakeholders and institutions; observing transparency; and backing up the entire process with a strong economy, social payback and values programs.
This is a matter of paramount national interest and our leaders must all rise to the challenge.
This is a volte-face from her previous statement on December 14:
I commend the decision of the House leadership as an act of statesmanship to unify not only the two chambers of the legislature but the whole nation around the issue of Charter change.
I thank Speaker Joe de Venecia and his valiant allies in the House for heeding the voice of national consolidation and unity, without sacrificing their high vision of political renewal.
It is time to gather together all the energies of our people for the continuing work ahead – maintaining our economic strength, ensuring the social payback of economic reforms, and helping distressed communities back to their feet.
Philippine democracy will always find the proper time and opportunity for Charter reform at a time when the people deem it ripe and needful, and in the manner they deem proper. The nation must consolidate now and I call upon all our institutions and sectors to stand as one for the country’s future.
The “urgency and fervor” of December 19 was not there on December 14; or put another way, the need to “gather together all the energies of our people,” etc., was magnificently accomplished in all of one week (which proves nothing is ever permanent in politics).
If members of the House were stunned a week ago, it’s happy days again, as the latest show of bravura indicates, regardless of whether or not they’re taking their cue from the unsinkable Speaker, the irrepressible Senator Santiago, and a highly-pleased Alex Magno.
So there you have it. It reminds me of something else Mon Casiple told me: “don’t believe for a moment their Con-Ass proposal has been really archived and is dead.”
In her column, Connie Veneracion suggests broader, and harder, questions have to be tackled if a proper Charter Change debate is to take place.
In the blogosphere, Philippine Commentary continues to elaborate his thesis that a new kind of political conservatism is a-borning. Red’s Herring examines the role of People Power in a democracy and how just invoking its name can scare the wits out of leaders.
Ang Tagapaggalugad as well as Audrin’s Site, and Sarita’s Site, and Four Eyed Journal went to the rally and took photos. On the other hand, Pinoy X-sa KSA is fed up with rallies. A sentiment expressed by those who had to deal with yesterday’s Makati rally: see Past Midnight and onetwentyhours.
Ellen Tordesillas wrote about that rally as it was taking place, saying one message it presented was “don’t rely on the Church.” Her entry reminded me of the heated debate during Edsa Dos, between those who wanted to stay at the Edsa Shrine, and the others who wanted to march on the Palace.