Update 2:17 pm: House showdown deferred. Talk is rife, however, that it might push through anyway, but without media coverage. Rep. Matias Defensor says the ruling coalition prefers a secret caucus in committee rooms, where congressmen will indicate where they stand should there be a division of the House; and that when the winner is known, they will then return to the Session Hall to formalize their choice, without having to engage in debate.
Quite a high-wire act. Until this morning, the deposing of the Speaker had an aura of inevitability not to mention, invincibility. A delay of 24 hours can give the de Venecia camp a second wind. Conversely, it can give the Palace more time to consolidate its forces. Defensor says, though, that their objective is to settle the leadership question by tomorrow at the latest. The primary consideration (see below) might actually be: can JDV muster the eighty-odd votes required, not to save his position, but to transmit the impeachment complaint to the Senate?
Sergio Apostol says the Palace is dangling appointment as ambassador to Washington or Secretary of Foreign Affairs to de Venecia (confirming previous scuttlebutt).
Rufus Rodriguez says if Nograles has the votes, they’ll join the bandwagon.
Over the weekend, there was posturing a-plenty: De Venecia, Nograles camps both say they have the votes. The best the Speaker could do was along the lines of JDV says he’s receiving many offers to join opposition.
He reportedly consulted former President Estrada who summoned an opposition meeting Sunday lunchtime. But that was worth a handful of votes at best. On the other hand, the leading Palace candidate for the speakership, Rep. Nograles, didn’t bother to show up at the Lakas leaders’ Palace golf-game.
Prior to that, he’d telegraphed that the Liberal Party and a big chunk of congressional neophytes had signed on to topple de Venecia.
The President, for her part, played alternately coy and helpless: Arroyo won’t stop sons on JDV ouster.
In its Sunday editorial, The son also rises, the Inquirer said that the apparent rebelliousness of the President’s sons was all an act.
Besides what the editorial pointed out, Mon Casiple in his blog entry Between two families traces the sore spots between the Speaker and the President:
The two protagonists–President Macapagal-Arroyo and JDV–have been dueling through proxies for some months now since the president broke her promise to step down in one year’s time from July 2005. The current stage started when the ZTE scandal broke out last year, involving JDV’s own son, Joey de Venecia. In December 2006, JDV was nearly unseated when his co-savior, Fidel Ramos, insisted on the supposed agreement in July 2005. He did a judo trick, going along with the Malacañang charter change agenda. In the process, FVR got elbowed out and was humiliated at the Lakas coalition showdown. However, the president’s men did not forget JDV’s “unreliability” and ambition for the top post. Their discontent fed into KAMPI’s own simmering grievance over its being sidelined for a long, long time from the speakership post, despite it being acknowledged as the president’s own party. Over time, the presidential (and JDV’s) argument for maintaining the rainbow coalition got fewer and fewer audience among them. Things got into a head in the last 2007 elections. The JDV camp found itself fighting for survival–not for speakership–but even for membership in the House. JDV got into a real fight with Dagupan mayor Benjie Lim for the Pangasinan’s 4th congressional seat. It was bruited later that the principal backers behind Lim included the First Gentleman and KAMPI. JDV won the fight (with FVR support) and later defended his speakership by invoking the continuity of the limping coalition. However, by that time, the trust between the coalition partners had all but disappeared. Malacañang concentrated in its hand all the pork barrel (and IRA) disbursements.
Back to Casiple: he ended his piece by saying further developments would be suggested by the results of the Palace golf game yesterday morning.
But as it turned out, Arroyo snubs Lakas golf game (this morning’s Inquirer editorial objects to the choice of gold, and the choices the various groups such as the Liberals have made, to go along with the Palace-led ouster of de Venecia). However, one source, quoting a conversation with Dato Arroyo on Saturday, said of the so-called snub,
ala raw golf chuchu much les wid tabalko talaga sa sked ng nanay nya. Napapirma raw nya rachel arenas ysday. 140 na but targeting 20 to 40 more.
And so, instead of a Sunday meeting, the Speaker was told he should go to the Palace on Monday, either at 10 or 11 am. That gave the Palace time to round up the “20 or 40 more,” which refers to pledges to vote against the Speaker (see Pals, foes switch to battle mode as JDV fate hangs). The Monday meeting, held at the Palace Park, was expected to take all morning.
Casiple also said that the escalating fight between de Venecia and Arroyo carries with it the risk of tearing apart the ruling coalition. This is something I tackle in my column, Aliens versus Predators.
News like this –Eastern Samar Gov. Evardone quits Lakas party– is a sign of things to come:
“I can better serve my constituents if I join other political parties … I want to join a political party that I think is close to President Arroyo’s heart,” explained Evardone, who is spokesperson for the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, a group of local government executives. “Where the President is, I will be there,” he said.
Lakas has to consider if it will keep an increasingly decorative speakership.
As for de Venecia himself, Conrado de Quiros zeroes in on the problem: those still loyal to the President view him as disloyal and dangerous; those opposed to the administration can’t forgive him for killing two impeachments and giving the President a new lease on political life in 2005. An interesting tactical point comes from Joel Rocamora, as quoted in UNTV: impeachment might suddenly get a new lease on life.
The Speaker made a choice in July 2005, gambling on achieving parliamentary government by giving the President a chance to survive. FVR gambled on the same thing. The President eliminated FVR as a power in Lakas and then proceeded to cultivate the Speaker to kill impeachment efforts. The President rewarded them by using the resources of her office to try to kill Lakas. When the Speaker’s son decided to spill the beans later rather than sooner, the Speaker agonized over it and tried to save himself even if it meant he had to distance himself from the son who was trying to do the right thing, for whatever reason.
Leadership requires numbers but it also requires showing true grit; this is how politicians become statesmen. The Speaker has had repeated opportunities to finally choose the path of statesmanship but chose the low road each and every time. The simple lesson here is that if anyone is going to be held accountable for anything, it’s not the President or her family; it will be allies who, once they show some independence of mind, will be crushed.
In the blogosphere, The Lonely Vampire Chronicles compiles relevant headlines; smoke has a bone to pick with the opposition concerning the speakership fight; and Uniffors advises congressmen to take the money -and squeal. The Equalizer points to Rep. Mikey Arroyo saying it’s all about ZTE. Brain Cell Exercises puts it well:
This recent skirmish in the House of Representatives only goes to show several things: first, that when blood relatives squeal on Malacañang, one should be ready for the death of his/her political dynasty. Second, that there are no permanent allies in politics — only permanent interests. I believe that Nograles and his allies do have the numbers to finally topple JDV. But considering this man’s trapo nature, it’s just going to be another case of one set of rascals being replaced by another set of rascals. Let’s just see how much of a Malacañang lapdog he’s going to be. If the issue on charter change gets revived for the nth time in the House of Representatives under Nograles’ term as Speaker, then my theory is proven: that Nograles has been bestowed with the all-mighty Malacañang shield of power.
Pinoy x-sa KSA points out,
If you are a father, you know very well that you cannot control your sons and daughters. If you are a son or daughter, you know you cannot be controlled, 100%, at all, by your parents. For me, it was important that JDV III exposed the NBN deal.
And Ricelander’s Blog reflects on unbridgeable opinions.