In the wake of the damaging testimony of Mr. Lozada, Malacañang strategists apparently decided that their own press appearances and conferences will not get them anywhere. The Senate hearing is the one that the public is following. They decided to send some of the president’s men cited by Lozada to the Senate in today’s hearing. DENR Secretary Lito Atienza (Lozada’s boss), PNP Director-General Avelino Razon, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite, and former secretary Mike Defensor (reportedly Ms. Arroyo’s current unofficial liaison to the Catholic bishops) were sent to do damage control.
The more interesting people, however, will not be there. The president’s hubby, Mr. Mike Arroyo, CHEd Secretary Romy Neri, former Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos, Jr., and Assistant Secretary Medy Poblador (secretary for special concerns) will not (yet) appear. To be sure, “Ma’am” and “ES” will not identify themselves, much less go to the Senate.
The ones who are appearing today are either the least guilty (based on Lozada’s charges), the most “comfortable” with the public, or the most loyal. The tactic here seems to make sure they deliver their own message and attempt to do damage control at the primary leak site.
This is a dangerous tactic if there are more damaging information out there–it gives the opposition the chance to dig deeper into the charges. The non-appearance of the others may be seen to limit this possibility. Nevertheless, in a situation where credibility before the public is everything, a single mistake or misstep may cost the whole game.
This certainly showed the narrrowing options of Malacañang, the depth of its desperation and the shallowness of its defensive bench. Given the strength of the Lozada testimony, it is only a matter of time before others break rank and continue his story. Given the public response, it is only a matter of time before a critical mass will be reached and a political denouement is reached.
The Arroyo family definitely knows it is fighting for its political survival. The charter change campaign has been temporarily shelved and it has ordered all the president’s men to man the ramparts. Will it be enough?