Hot news indeed! GMA just announced her intention to form a panel for a federal Philippines by 2012. It is still too early of course to say where is this going to eventually end. However, the announcement does have several impacts on the current crisis in the ruling coalition and also on the political landscape.
Foremost is the intention to unite the local officialdom and local political dynasties behind her |(at least those who are salivating at the prospect of controlling local natural resources and politics under the federal state). It will also distract and even divide the opposition and civil society, particularly in Mindanao. Without mentioning a complementary parliamentary system, it hopes to undercut Speakers Jose de Venecia’s influence in the House. It may even entice the MILF to sign a peace agreement. All in all, a good deal.
What is of concern however is the all-important question: How will she do it? She tried already through the so-called “people’s initiative” and a House-only “Constituent Assembly” last year. They both ended in failure. Given the strong sentiment against a charter change under GMA, the only viable option is for it to happen under a strong coercive regime, such a martial law declaration or another emergency power rule.
Under an emergency rule, political pressure can be brought to a frightened Congress, the Comelec and eventually the people for a transition government towards a federal state. Shades of Marcos, circa 1972.
It may well turn out to be all talk and no walk for the GMA administration–since a presidential election in 2010 gives the Cha-cha decision to the GMA successor. If this all that is there, we can enjoy the show–since it would only highlight the current show that is the unraveling of the ruling coalition. Die Hard 5, anyone?