"NO! NO! A THOUSAND TRAPOS SAY NO! SO WHY SHOULD I?"
PDI reports on an uproar in the Lakas Party over remarks by Fidel Ramos yesterday calling on President Arroyo to cut short her term in office and the Palace's outright rejection of the Ramos timeline. Recall that it was just last July that PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO was fighting for her political life and was said to be on the verge of resigning as a result of the Garci Tape revelations. Then FIDEL RAMOS and JOE DE VENECIA made her an offer she could not refuse: Dance the Chacha and we'll toss you a LifeSaver.
(Well, what better way to prevent ouster, Gloria may well have said to herself in that desperate and dangerous moment last July, than by throwing everybody into the moral and intellectual tempest of the most diabolical diversionary quagmire imaginable -- a sweeping revision of the Constitution? The debates over Chacha should keep the politicos, the pundits and the public busy. By the time the waggling tongues get done arguing the Preamble, it'll be 2010 already!)
PGMA took the offer of FVR and JDV and gave them reserved seats at her SONA, at which she announced support for the Chacha train. Now, six months later and having crisscrossed many moral Rubicons, maybe she really doesn't need the two Old Codgers any more, not with the two Prosperos -- Pichay and Nograles -- eagerly waiting in the wings for their hour upon the Batasan Stage. They have become inconvenient troublemakers. Expendable since they also now have ZERO CREDIBILITY with Frank Drilon and the rest of the democratic Opposition.
ABUEVA'S ABERRATIONS: It is ironic that the Palace berates accusations of wiretapping and voterigging against the President as POLITICAL NOISE that is hindering the ECONOMIC TAKEOFF of the Philippines. Yet, I can't imagine a greater source of noisy acrimony and a monumental waste of time and effort than the Chacha debates. Though I think there is plenty of need for reforming the Charter, the poisonous atmosphere of an illegitimate Presidency seems to diminish the chances of such an awesome project being properly debated by the Filipino people. To get those debates into high gear, the President appointed a Consultative Commission under Jose Abueva. But that Con-Com came up with Transitory Provisions that abolish the 2007 elections, extending the terms of incumbents for three years. Under the proposals, PGMA also becomes Prime Minister while retaining her powers as President. And a large number of her present Cabinet Secretaries get to be Members of Parliament without the inconvenience of democratic election. Predictably, the ConCom's prefabricated New Constitution and risible Transitory Provisions have become the target of outrage and righteous criticism. From the looks of it, FVR and JDV are determined to get a new Constitution by 2006 blessed by a plebiscite in time for Parliamentary elections in 2007. But the Senate will surely fight the abolition that unicameralists are plotting for them -- portending a big fight that will be settled in the Supreme Court over the arithmetic of fractions like 3/4 and 2/3 and simple majorities.
But so what, the Palace asks? If the Chacha proposals are all shot down, it's FVR's and JDV's dead baby and the 1987 Charter stays in force. Otherwise it's President AND Prime Minister for Ma'm. Chacha is a briliant quagmire and both FVR and JDV are now expendable troublemakers.
RONNIE PUNO, Congressman from Antipolo and President of the GMA's Kampi pretend political party, was on Talk Back with Tina Palma on ANC News to manage the spin on Fidel Ramos. Puno made a big point about how the present administration is really a continuation of the FVR presidency since all of President Arroyo's Main Men at the Palace (Ed Ermita, Ignacio Bunye, Gabby Claudio, etc.) are really Lakas stalwarts of Fidel Ramos' making. Rumour has it that Ronnie Puno will head up the Dept. of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the coming Cabinet Revamp. (There he can continue orchestrating the several thousand congressmen, governors, mayors and other local government officials whose allegiance was the true secret of survival for the Palace last year, and even more necessary this year.)
But it was irksome to watch Ronnie Puno trot out the Poisoned Fruits argument again about the Garci Tapes. He's just plain wrong when he says that it was illegal for the Congress to have aired the Garci Tapes during a hearing "in aid of legislation." Surely, the Anti-Wiretapping Law is a proper subject of those Congress hearings. Still, it so happens that the prayer of Virgilio Garcillano to the Supreme Court in his Second Petition since reappearing from out of nowhere is for just such a declaration about the Garci tapes. Ronnie Puno is softening up the public for the coming Supreme Court ruling BURYING THE GARCI TAPES as poisoned fruits. Well let me point you to Dilemma of the Poisoned Fruits for a definitive debunking of Ronnie Puno's take on Tanada's law. He was obviously lawyering for Garci and is probably one of Garci's legal and tactical handlers.