A nice photo that day in Malacañang–with the Lakas coalition all in the view, the president flanked by her two co-leaders in the Lakas. But, where’s the KAMPI and NPC people?
The hastily-arranged meeting and photo-ops reflects the hard bargaining that took place while all of us were enjoying an extended Halloween holiday. When all is said and done, it seems that the ruling coalition has never been disunited–that is, if you take the media hype dished up in that Malacañang meeting.
At what cost? KAMPI people were not invited so it was not an encompassing settlement of problems within the ruling coalition. There was also no public statement on the various issues besetting the coalition. Rather, it smacks of a power deal between GMA, JDV, and FVR–a Lakas-only agreement.
However, from a broader perspective of the current presidential political crisis, what happened basically served to paper over deep disunities. True, no ouster of the Speaker happened nor an impeachment prospered upon the resumption of Congress (with the notable exception of the much-criticized Pulido impeachment petition). It also remains to be seen what will happen to the ZTE scandal revelation, the bribery investigation, or to the Glorietta incident findings.
The bigger question that seems to be up in the air is: what will happen to GMA in the intervening months until 2010, and thereafter? If current straws in the wind are to be believed, the settlement with Erap did not produce any rapprochement with the opposition–nor with Erap himself. There is also no indication that any deal with frontline presidentiables had occurred.
What is suspect at the moment is that the president is laying the ground for another go at charter change–eventually leading to a possible extension of her stay in power beyond 2010. In this, the three of them are agreed as this will make it possible the political survival of Lakas (and their own political fortunes). We are faced with the specter of revival of a Cha-cha ghost–most probably the “people’s initiative” variety. Appointments to the Comelec thus become more crucial than ever before.
At the moment, however, the more significant implication of the Malacañang photo-ops is the time bought–however short–for regime survival. The fragility of the ruling coalition has been stayed momentarily. It will not preclude further plots along the road to 2010, from both sides of the coalition as well as from both sides of the opposition.
At the moment, JDV and FVR has saved the queen again. For themselves?