20 August 2005

Crunch Time for JDV

Next week will be crunch time for Speaker Joe de Venecia.
As the pro-impeachment bloc's campaign to convince 79 congressmen to sign the impeachment complaint nears its final stages, JDV will have some critical choices to make.
Will he and his lieutenants allow the amended impeachment complaint to be brought to the Senate or will they throw it out and risk the political consequences? Right now, JDV holds in his hands the fate of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency.
Which is why JDV is the best friend Arroyo has right now.
The most important thing for Arroyo now is to contain the impeachment complaint at the House, where they have a better chance of having it killed. Given the current level of support for her in the senate, she stands a good chance of being removed from office if the impeachment complaint is left to the Senate to decide.
JDV is the most masterful parliamentarian in the country. A decision by him to transmit the complaint to the senate could spell the end for GMA, in just the same way that a decision by him to kill the complaint in the Lower House could mean her survival in office.
Many observers believe that President Arroyo has asked JDV not to allow the complaint to reach the senate in exchange for her support for an accelerated timetable for charter change through a constituent assembly, as indicated in her state of the nation address.
Sounds like a classic JDV type win-win solution. JDV gets his parliamentary system in place and President Arroyo saves herself from being removed from office in disgrace. Granted she will have to shorten her term of office, but better to willingly step down than to have the presidency pried from the grasp of her cold, dead hands.
The dilemna for the Speaker is this: He cannot dribble the ball on impeachment forever. Sooner or later he will have to transmit it to the senate or kill it. Once he has acted, he loses any leverege he may have to force the president to live up to her promise to support conass. The key then for JDV is for the president to irreversibly put the wheels in motion for conass by convincing her allies in the senate to support it BEFORE he acts on the impeachment complaint. Something that has not yet happened.
And the longer it takes for conass to be put in place, the harder it becomes to kill impeachment. As the clamor for impeachment mounts, pro-impeachment forces in the House are nearing the 79 signatures needed to fast track its transmittal to the senate. If that happens, JDV may have little choice but to transmit the complaint to the senate. If he chooses to kill the complaint despite the 79 signatures, he will be the main target of the political whirlwind that will arise from throwing out the complaint. He will also have played his final card. Without the threat of impeachment, President Arroyo will have absolutely no incentive to support JDV's dream of a shift to parliamentary government. Except for her word.
Forced into a corner, JDV will just have to have faith that the President will keep her word. Given her record of keeping promises, that's not a comforting thought.

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