The gamble

So it’s possible, after all, to squeeze blood from a turnip. I refrained from blogging much today to fully pay attention to what’s been going on. The day began with what was already being discussed last night as a dud: the press conference of the Hyatt 10 which would not reveal anything spectacular.

But it seems an opportunity was found in what was revealed, specifically, Soliman’s account of the President instructing Gabby Claudio to find someone to endorse Oliver Lozano’s complaint.

As soon as the Palace saw that no documents or hard evidence would be revealed, they proceeded to attack Soliman and friends. Their tactic: reduce the debate to a he said, she said series of pots calling kettles black. In such a game, the administration doesn’t have to win, it only has to throw enough mud around. That it did.

What neither side gambled on, perhaps, was the ability of the congressmen themselves to put two and two together, and then, the clumsiness of the majority.

More explosive than the revelation by Soliman that the President instructed Claudio to deliver an endorser, and Claudio’s instant reaction that he had just the right party-list representative in mind, was a reminder that Lozano had also saved then Vice-President Arroyo from impeachment by filing a bogus impeachment complaint in 2000. The clincher in the conspiracy theory was the fact that it was Rep. Prospero Pichay, the lead attack dog of the majority, who endorsed Lozano’s complaint. To the observer, this was the most damning detail.

Then there was the case of the impatient engine driver. If the majority had allowed today’s Justice Committee hearings to proceed with ample opportunities for the minority to scream and yell, it could then say they (the minority) were being spoiled sports, because the majority could have proceeded with a vote, and then sneered at the minority for failing to come up with the necessary 79 signatures.
And it could have argued that there remained the opportunity for the minority to challenge the majority decision in plenary.

Apparently it did not enter their minds that they were dealing with young hot-heads; the clincher in this case was the decision of Chairman Datumanong to suspend debate -after weeks of permitting the most vivid debates- thus cutting of Rep. Ace Barbers. This came at the heels of Datumanong turning off the microphone when minority representatives earlier tried to bring up contentious points (whether Soliman’s statement, or the assertion that only the “amended” complaint has been properly verified, and as such, is the only one that should be discussed). So Datumanong’s either scatter-brained or suddenly inflexible behavior was enough to get the minority angry and upset.

To make things worse, upon summarily ending the debate, Datumanong then moved to put the first of the prejudicial questions to a vote. To top it all off, he ignored the last-minute attempts of some minority members to make a motion to adjourn (in parliamentary practice, such a motion trumps all other motions, and cannot be ignored). And so, the walk-out.

Things then moved so fast that neither those in the Session Hall or watching on TV or listening to radio quite knew what was going on; ANC immortalized the event as “pandemonium.” For weeks now, actually, it was said that the minority would do a walk-out, either with or without Susan Roces. Rep. Edcel Lagman claims the opposition was set to walk out anyway after the disposition of the second prejudicial question.

So it means the surprise was that the minority walked out sooner than expected. Why would they do that? That is where Rep. Darlene Custodio’s assertion that they were infuriated, comes in. And it seems quite plausible.

Then what did the majority do? It hung around, waiting for the minority to come back. Then the minority held a press conference appealing for signatures, and saying they were fed up and would no longer participate in the committee meeting. The attitude of the minority having been made clear, what did the majority then do?

It made the biggest mistake of all. It proceeded with voting on the prejudicial question anyway. It could have waited for cooler heads to prevail. It did not. It proceeded to justify the minority’s belief that it was out to railroad events. It held the vote, and won the vote, though some, like Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr., who remained behind, voted against the motion in disgust (you could clearly see it in Locsin’s face as he sat while everyone else stood up to show their approval for the disposition of the prejudicial questions).

When this is all argued and counter-argued in the days to come, the question of the minority’s sincerity -was it planning a walkout all along- will be answered by two things: the twitching, angry faces of Custodio and friends, versus the railroaded vote that proceeded even after the minority left the hall.

Rep. Ronaldo Zamora says they have “over 70” signatures -but “if it’s short, it’s short,” and so, a last-ditch effort to get the 79. He says they will not march directly to the Senate. They will no longer participate in the proceedings of the Committee on Justice, but instead, if they get the 79, proceed to verify the signatures with the House Secretary-General, then file a motion with the Committee on Justice, and face the plenary debates, and then obtain their impeachment managers and a budget.

We are now back in crisis mode.

Update: 6:49 pm word is, Rep. Villar has signed the complaint, statement to follow. Talk of her bringing 7-10 congressmen with her; if true, then impeachment’s a go.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

19 thoughts on “The gamble

  1. Turning point again?

    You said before that the GMA camp has learned very well from the Erap debacle. They seem to have a trump card in their hands.

  2. They did learn very well, but I don’t think they figured out how a clumsy committee chairman could screw things up.

  3. (Please delete my second comment. Its weird that your email address appeared instead of mine, I don’t know why it happened.)

    Based on what I have read so far, the chair goofed up (to say it mildly). They trusted him too much.

    The congressman’s statement yesterday can be prophetic, or just a prelude to an orchestrated play by the opposition – to circumvent an obvious pro-GMA committee and take the case to the streets.

  4. Funniest remark of the day was Edcel Lagman’s. Trying to explain away the issue that the Lozano and Lopez complaints were unverified he said Lozano’s ssignature and the fact that he was a lawyer made it a virtual verification. Lagman lives in virtual reality.

  5. They just buried themselves in a bigger shit than they are currently enjoying at the moment. We will see much more explosive stuff in the days to come. I deduce what happened to a scenario where it will turn dangerous to Gloria for she will very much need the support of ramos. Without Ramos and his Generals ( oh you thought the generals are loyal to Gloria dont you? ) Gloria will be ousted for sure. What we have to notice in the near future are the actions of the people associated with the Cigar toting dude instead of what Susan Roces will say.

    The administration (Gloria people) is trying to project to the “other”(Ramos) that they can manurever themselves out of this mess all by themselves and they dont necessarily need the “other”‘s help. Oh boy they are wrong. Erap tried wrangle out of Ramos’s hands and got ass kicking in the butt instead. Gloria will get it to. we will see, we will see.

    Why do I stress this? because I have to put 2+2 = 4. call me crazy but didint mlq3 said a while ago that El Tabako is quite unhappy with Madame I am sorry? Then poof Villar signed the impeachment complaint with 10 other congressmen. Then Datumanong’s action today seems like irrational and Datumanong isnt the kind of guy who do stupid things recklessly. He gave the minority a reason to walk out and spit on the institution they are currently employed. seems like something is brewing aint it? yep I also sounds crazy writing this.

    This is just my conspiracy theory. I just hope this aint true.

    shameless plug

  6. Haha! And to thwart Tabako’s plan, we should laud the efforts of of PGMA’s stalwarts in Congress!

    Seriously, I wonder why Ramos would want to embroil himself deeply with this, now that he mostly travels around the world and plays a lot of golf.

  7. Manolo,

    Great blog. You cover what I missed while I was at the Hyatt 10 press forum.

    Seems to me that what these much-besieged noble hearts need is a pang-masa media master plan — as in more radio and TV. They waited a tad too long to follow-up the foiled July 7 offensive. The blogosphere, where they’re understood, is limited to those with computer access. The print media follow the wind, and that wind is centered on the antics of traditional power.

    There’s a huge gap between them and the weightiest mass target audience for their message — that bottomline morality is at the heart of the whole impeachment offensive. And reality’s beginning to bite:they lack resources to get the message out to this audience as long and widely as it takes. The hat was passed after the press forum. It brought me right back to 83-86, but this time the passion that ignites people power seemed absent.

    What to do? I’m trying to figure out right now.


  8. well, villar signed up already and they’re still in need of 30. haha! to think zamora said they have 70 already. what a clown.

  9. mud-slinging as usual for PIKO players (pilipino kongreso members – as opposed to the HOPPERS of good ol’ US Congress)…mr tiglao’s reference to the hyatt 10’s conference as “pathetic” and insignificant surely fits the aims of the administration more – clinging on to power…the wheels of justice are turning alright, SOUTH HEMISPHERE-wise that is (refer to how toilet turns on the southern part of the planet where it goes COUNTERCLOCKWISE – it sucks doesnt it?)…makes me wonder why and if going to EDSA 2001 back then was worth it…buti pa nga kay ERAP kahit papaano kaunti lang ang tinaas ng dolyares at takot ang mga hayok na kumpanya magtaas ng presyo ng produckto nila…hirap talaga pag marami kang “PINASASALAMATAN”

  10. how many pinoys are there? was it 80 million? tens of millions of Pinoys and all we could produce are bumbling leaders. a president who cheats, gets caught, and lies through her teeth. a lackluster opposition that can’t even feign moral superiority over its foes. and the whole country is reduced to watching the misdeeds of these clowns and charlatans! hay naku. kawawang Pinoy, walang lideratong pwedeng asahan.

  11. datumanong’s actions were simply applaing and disgusting. talk about adding pouring more dirt on the already dirty image of our congress.

    numerous times he shamelessly pushed other members of the congress aside, and didnt even hide his seeming intent to get the vote over and done with. first was the incident with Paras, then with Etta Rosales, then the Deputy Speaker, Noynoy Aquino and the backbreaker with Deputy Majority Leader Ace Barbers.

    what makes it even more disgusting was that there was not even an attempt to address their concerns, which were valid in their own right. it was as if he heard nothing at all. perhaps that exemplifies the problem of all our leaders, that they hear nothing at all.

    At least Pangilinan had the “courtesy” to say “noted”.

    Datumanong’s action is a far cry from how another committee chairman who was recently in the public spotlight, handled conflict and contentious issues, namely Gilbert Remulla.

  12. They lie they cheat they steal. Thats what we have here. Our country is still runs by the few elites. Grabe. Mas mabuti pa talaga nung panahon ng amerikano dito. at least kung sakasakali na sakop pa rin nila tayo we can whine to the media all we want and we can expect change. National identity? wala na kasi mas nakakahiya na maging pilipino. kawawa naman ang mga magiging anak ko.

  13. six cents none the richer.:

    1. the political system is no longer working to produce leaders that transcend beyound vested [pestering] interests;

    2. the administration is really hell-bent on deriving pleasure in divsision/schisms, the truth is no longer out there…lies, repeatedly incanted, becomes a reality. truth is really, really relative;

    3. heard from anti-impeachment group, that’s the immaturity of the walk-out group dishonored congress…wonder when was this congress’ becomes honorable;

    4. civil disobedience/open defiance are easier said than done but am still hopeful;

    5. some say the opposition has it in their grand conspiracy, wonder how these fragmented opposition was able to pull the needed strings and put their acts together and i wonder whether the two widows’ public appeal can whip whatever magic;

    6. although coming from a “political dynasty”, i am starting to like darlene antonino-custodio’s twitching angry face and wit in the same passion as imee marcos.

  14. ewan ko . . .

    my ingnorant observation is that the opposition congressmen could not impeach a barangay chairman even if their life depended on it.

    the formula for the walkout yesterday was: bungling clumsy justice committee chairman + young hotheads = walkout. we should all be surprise that these hearings went this far. if remulla had handled this committee (picking this up from x’s comments) this mess will never happen

    my ignorant unsolicited advise to the opposition congressmen: be cool and cunning, be smooth operators – you can control datumanong and his committee. conduct yourselves like brillant barristers, sticking to the legal means of achieving your objectives – veer away from dramatic and sensational press conferences and walkouts. veer away from the politics.
    i hope the next time you do a walkout you’ll be able to bring the people in the streets as what had happend during the impeachment of erap. wala rin sa timing eh and wala ring oreta-aquinong sumayaw.

  15. Disgusting! We spend millions of pesos to finance the expenditures of congress and what we got is a messy institution.

    I just don’t understand why that our well-educated conngressmen (including brilliant lawyers) can’t agree on simple things like what empeachment complaint is acceptable. If they find such issue difficult to understand and agree on what to do with it, how can they make laws that will propel our economy?

    Instead of projecting like dignified people (even if many are not), hey fight like uncivilized people in front of the whole world! Our educated congressmen look like morons in congress. Disgusting… really disgusting…

  16. From Buddhism, the law of Karma says: `for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful.’ A skillful event is one that is not accompanied by craving, resistance or delusions; an unskillful event is one that is accompanied by any one of those things. (Events are not skillful in themselves, but are so called only in virtue of the mental events that occur with them.)

    Therefore, the law of Karma teaches that responsibility for unskillful actions is born by the person who commits them.

    The opposition was caught with their pants down when Lozano filed the weak impeachment complaint. Naunahan sila. This is politics and this is democracy.

  17. Aren’t we stumped that the one we thought was the better alternative to the womanizing street gangster is an intelligent, church-going, highly educated monster? How indeed our so called good judgement is mocking us back now.

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