It’s all about the tactical implications of two moves: the Oliver Polido impeachment complaint (endorsed by Marcoleta San Luis) against the President on one hand, and Graft raps filed vs Speaker, son at Ombudsman on the other.
Here is the Pulido so-called impeachment complaint:
Here is the Pulido so-called anti-graft complaint:
Even as Impeachment bid vs Arroyo doomed – Puno, and Opposition solons not supporting impeach complaint vs Arroyo (not least, I’d guess, because it’s a familiar strategy, the crudeness of which is only surpassed by the idiocy of those trying to dangle inducements: Solon bares P2-M bribe to endorse Arroyo impeach rap), since anything is possible in politics, it does make sense to point out Impeach plot may backfire on Arroyo — solons.
This is the gambit unfolding before us, folks:
1. The “nuclear option” any Speaker has, against any President, particularly when presidents leave herding the members of the majority coalition in the hands of the Speaker or allows the Speaker to maintain a constituency of his own, is that a Speaker can repeat what then-Speaker Villar did to then-President Estrada. Suddenly transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.
2. To head off this “nuclear option,” or the option of an impeachment complaint getting off the ground, if you’re an uneasy President, then encourage an ally to file a flawed impeachment complaint. This can then go through all the necessary rigamarole in the House, and expands your delaying tactics and political options there.
3. If the complaint’s really, really bad, it won’t gain any steam; if it’s so bad but you’re so unpopular it might gather steam, you can defuse the situation anyway, by giving and denying pork barrel funds; in these a friendly Speaker can help you, an unfriendly Speaker hinder you; but if the complaint originated from you, the President, then your ally or enemy, the Speaker, has suddenly found his options limited. He can kill the impeachment complaint, which insulates you, the President, from having to take the heat of another complaint for at least a year; if the Speaker decides to send it upstairs to the Senate, flaws and all, anyway, then you can maneuver the Senate into acquitting you because the charges were bogus or fatally flawed, anyway.
It would take a Speaker who’s a wizard at parliamentary procedure to find a way out of this kind of trap. It’s possible, but requires nerves of steel and a reliable set of clever parliamentarians.
Meanwhile, the Speaker’s camp now has to wage its own battle: Hand of ‘higher ups’ behind graft complaint–De Venecia son. All the Palace’s guns are trained on the Speaker and his son, because they have to be destroyed during the vacation the Senate started a week ahead of schedule. There are still enough dangling threads for a Senate to continue weaving a rope with which to hang some of the President’s men. As smoke asked in her blog,
If the ZTE contract was all-wrong, why not go after the guy who signed it, Leandro Mendoza?
If the ZTE contract was founded on a concept so wrong-headed as a broadband backbone for government despite the existence of commercial backbones, why not put the thumbscrews on the guy who cleared the concept, Romulo Neri (props to Mar Roxas – otherwise a retard – for focusing on Neri)?
Yeah, why hasn’t anyone gone after Secretary Mendoza? After all, it takes two to tango, Mendoza was invited to that breakfast, and they kept meeting… and meeting… and meeting… and then de Venecia is told to “back off” by the President’s husband (out of concern for JDV3, he said), but then why didn’t he also tell Mendoza to “back off” since Mendoza works for Arroyo’s wife?
And what about the thumbscrews for Neri? Ah- there’s the brouhaha about that executive session in the senate. It struck too close too home, maybe? So its potential result had to be blunted with a clumsy move (the allegation that Andaya intimidated Neri)? And a future possibility it might be repeated headed off (by means of this: Arroyo confirms Neri report of bribery, muzzles Cabinet)?
The Inquirer editorial yesterday delves into the real issues at hand that won’t go away:
There are questions, too, concerning what transpired in the Senate’s executive session in which former Neda Director General Romulo Neri (now CHEd chair) was supposed to have been given the chance to explain why he had invoked executive privilege. He never got to it–from what the public knows so far. The allegations surrounding the failure of the executive session to achieve its purposes have been used to raise questions about media’s lawful right to protect their sources, thus shifting the focus away from the real issue, which is, the allegation of pressure brought by the executive department upon a witness summoned by the Senate, a clear invasion by a co-equal branch into the workings of another. Whether a senator, in effect, has been implicated in aiding and abetting executive interference further complicates the issue.
Since it has been proposed that the Senate, in the interest of its institutional independence, should get to the bottom of the allegations, and since Neri himself may not have even disclosed anything because the disclosure was made impossible by pressure being brought to bear by a Cabinet member, the Senate, not the media, holds the key. It can vote to allow every senator present to disclose what really transpired. And it begins with the senators figuring out if, legally speaking, an executive session even really transpired.
And then, there is the question of whether executive privilege can be used as a means of enabling officials to thwart Congress’ duties or, possibly, to obstruct justice, hide crimes and cover up misdemeanors.
Executive Order 464 covering civilian officials, now has a counterpart covering the military–Administrative Order 197. The President has made a categorical statement to the effect that her subordinates will be invoking the notorious EO 464 in future Senate inquiries. We can confidently predict AO 197 will be used to similar ill-effect by the AFP brass. Even administration ally Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has said that she expects this will end up in a case before the Supreme Court–the same place any challenge to invocations of executive privilege in Senate inquiries should end up.
As for the new Arroyo-Enrile tandem, Amando Doronila has some tart words for Senator Joker Arroyo in particular:
When the inquiry resumes, the Senate will find itself deeply divided on the issue, with no witness to provide it with the “smoking gun” to pin down the President.
But the resolution to hold reporters in contempt if they did not reveal their sources inside the executive session who leaked the story of Neri’s appearance is a live issue.
Senator Arroyo said he would pursue his ethics complaints against certain senators who leaked the details of the closed-door session. He does not need a battle with the press over an issue he cannot win — the right of the public to know.
It is so unnecessary. It is so unlike him to be on the side of a cover-up. It’s not worth covering up for the administration, especially on the involvement of the President’s husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.
A contrary view of the above is in Philippine Commentary.
The President’s risk-taking makes sense if you consider how damaged she’s been because of the Senate investigations, and how, if she can buy herself a year of breathing room, she can then mount an offensive against all possible rivals. The end game? Tony Abaya thinks the President will pull a Putin:
It has been rumored that all these shady transactions were/are meant to raise money for Kampi (Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino, or something like that), the political party headed by President Arroyo. That is not improbable.
During its “party congress” in February 2005, then Rep. Ronaldo Puno, at that time Kampi’s president, expressly set the goal of Kampi becoming the biggest political party in the Philippines by the year 2007.
In an earlier article, I had asked why Kampi, then a miniscule grouping, would want to become the biggest political party in the Philippines only three years before President Arroyo’s non-extendable term as president expires. I concluded that President Arroyo wanted to remain in power beyond 2010, as prime minister…
The subsequent maneuvers to shift to a parliamentary system of government, in the Lower House and through a so-called people’s initiative, confirmed my prognosis. Though both efforts were stymied, it does not mean GMA and Kampi have given up.
We can expect Speaker Jose de Venecia to be deposed from his position soon, especially after the expose by his son Joey on the NBN deal. Does Kampi have the numbers? Probably not. But the question should be rephrased, does Kampi have the money to buy all the opportunistic trapos waiting to be bought? To which the answer is probably, Yes.
A model may soon emerge in, of all places, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was first elected in May 2000 from a field of ten candidates, with the support of the outgoing president, the late Boris Yeltsin. In March 2004, Putin was re-elected president with an astounding 71% of the votes. His presidential term ends in March 2008 and he is barred by the Russian Constitution from running for a third term.
But — surprise! surprise! — he announced last Monday, Oct. 01, that he will run for a seat in the Russian parliament in the coming parliamentary elections on December 2, and that, as head of the ruling United Russia party, he had a “realistic” chance of becoming prime minister.
This announcement, made during a pre-election party congress in Moscow, brought “hundreds of delegates to their feet with a roar of applause,” according to the French news agency, AFP. This is not political hyperbole. Putin is genuinely popular for having brought prosperity (through the high price of oil and gas) and law and order to a formerly impoverished and chaotic Russia. The latest public opinion surveys give Putin an approval rating of more than 70%.
So, if he wins a seat in parliament in December — and no one doubts that he will – Putin will be both president and prime minister for several weeks or months, until he names a presidential successor to take over in March 2008. In those weeks or months, the Russian Constitution will no doubt be amended to shift from the presidential to the parliamentary system of government, to allow the popular Putin, who is only 55 years old, to remain in power almost indefinitely, as long as his party retains majority in parliament.
Can our resident dominatrix, who has a net approval rating of negative 11% in the latest SWS survey, pull off a Putin here? Why not? The party in power — Kampi plus the usual opportunistic turncoats from Lakas and other parties – always has a built-in advantage over a divided and leaderless opposition, plus the cash from all those kickbacks to buy everyone with..
It is not improbable that another maneuver towards parliamentary will be railroaded soon, followed by elections for seats in an interim parliament, the original game plan of Speaker JdV to become the country’s first prime minister. But he’s out of the loop now. As in Russia after December, we could have both president and prime minister in one person, for a few weeks at least, until the shift to parliamentary is finalized and complete.
As long as the economy is doing fairly well, it would be hard for Loren or Chiz or Manny or Ping or Mar or whoever to successfully raise the moral issue against President Arroyo because the perception is rife and widespread that they are all crooks anyway – or would be beholden to another set of crooks anyway – and nothing is going to change if any of them were to take over through another Big Money-dominated election.
But to do that, she needs to take down the Speaker, now, and wall off the Senate.
More on Putin. Last year, a media critic of the Russian President died, or more accurately, was murdered, and in Pajamas Media, a closer look at Putin and his nemesis is taken by Kim Zigfeld, while a portion of Perry Anderson’s article on Russia in the Age of Putin is reprinted in Harper’s.