Two days ago, Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., a key witness in the ZTE-NBN case, was abducted purportedly by presidential guard personnel from his plane when it landed in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Later, apparently due to the media chase that ensued, he was released to the care of the Catholic church.
With this development–and at the heels of the political quake that was the ouster of Speaker Jose de Venecia–the political crisis of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has taken a rapid turn for the worse. The Lozada abduction betrayed the breaking of the legal and constitutional boundaries just as the JDV ouster betrayed the breaking of the usual political boundaries.
What happened to JDV showed that the Arroyo family is prepared to ruthlessly discard even a top ally who may dissent from its position. It demonstrated the vulnerability of all friends and allies once they doubt or oppose the ruling family. Further, the JDV ouster can be seen as a major–if not a fatal–blow at the independence of the House of Representatives and the building of a genuine political party system.
What happened to Mr. Lozada was something else. It exposed the readiness of the Arroyo family to use the state instrumentalities–even if violative of laws and human rights–for purely political survival imperatives. Malacañang’s subsequent explanations and “evidences” to support an alleged “voluntary request” by Mr. Lozada for protection pale in the face of Lozada’s own story of forced abduction. The actual events support Lozada’s own version, such as the cloak and dagger operation, the denial by Lozada’s own family of such a request, the subsequent urgent motion for a writ of habeas corpus and writ of amparo before the Supreme Court, the contradictory stories of various government officials identified with the abduction, and the renewed Malacañang attack on the Senate investigation of the ZTE-NBN deal.
The panic, desperation, and tenseness evident in the sloppy decisions and executions in these incidents vie for supremacy with the arrogance, ruthlessness, and power-tripping evident in the mind-processes of the decision-makers.
After the JDV and Lozada incidents (and the potential political damage they promise), the specter of the whole fragile world of the Arroyos suddenly crashing down around them become a clear possibility. The Arroyo strategists are having restless days and sleepless nights over these events (or the mishandling of these events).