04 September 2005

Speaker Puno

The next two or three days could be the end of the road for impeachment. With President Arroyo scheduled to leave within days for the United Nations, the informal deadline for her allies to kill the impeachment is fast approaching.
I understand the president is very closely monitoring the events...not just on TV but by calling her allies in the House several times a day. She seems increasingly anxious about the much anticipated final vote scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm told she's not sleeping much.
Understandably so. No head of state wants to address the UN with a cloud about their legitimacy hanging over their head. Even if her allies in the House manage to kill the impeachment Tuesday, that would only be a temporary reprieve for her.
That is because there is a price to be paid for the cooperation of Lakas CMD. And that price will be apparent a few months after the impeachment is killed.
That price is for her to deliver in one year on her promise of irreversibly beginning the process of shifting to a parliamentary form of government.
For people like President Fidel Ramos and Speaker Jose de Venecia who have risked much political capital and even their place in history to support GMA now, the deadline is not extendible. If the constitution is not amended ASAP, JDV's third and final term ends in 2007 after which he will have to sit on the sidelines for an excruciating three years. FVR believes that this is probably the last good chance the country has to shift to a parliamentary form of government, something he has always felt is in the country's long term interest. So if she does not deliver IN ONE YEAR, I suspect JDV himself will move to impeach her after the one-year ban on impeachment cases expires in July 2006.
But how can GMA deliver on her promise if she cannot win the support of the Senate? That's something I will explore in a future posting.
In the meantime, this current scenario is not without risk for the Speaker. If GMA has no intention of shortening her term to accomodate JDV and FVR, she will surely be working in the next year to remove the threat of impeachment by ousting JDV from power and replacing him with a more friendly and supportive Speaker of the House....someone like Rep. Ronaldo Puno.
As the pro-impeachment bloc creeps closer and closer to their goal of 79 votes by Tuesday, our two protagonists will get more and more worried. More pressure will be brought to bear on members of Congress. Perhaps an attempt will be made to kill the complaint on Monday and not Tuesday or Wednesday as scheduled. In which case many of the opposition's maneuvers, scheduled for execution Tuesday, will be rendered moot and academic.
Given all of this I suspect GMA is not the only one who will have sleepless nights this coming week.

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