The GMA administration has launched its counterplay in the game of its political survival. On top, of course, was the appearance of some top administration officials in the Senate hearing last Monday. In vain, they tried to turn around the story of Jun Lozada’s kidnapping from NAIA, that it was made to prevent his Senate testimony, and that the highest officials of the land were implicated. The reversal of the policy not to appear before Senate hearings was made, I think, to discredit Lozada and prevent further damage from his testimony.
A much more insidious tactic, however, are the current efforts to prevent the congealing of a critical political mass to force GMA to resign. Central to this is the prevention and blunting of more possible exposé. Current efforts are being exerted to woo (and threaten) former Speaker de Venecia to prevent him from spilling the beans he hinted at in his swan song as speaker. Cabinet members are under close watch for possible breaking of ranks.
The Lozada testimony–while damaging–does not yet have the status of a smoking gun in terms of the ZTE-NBN scandal–he simply does not have the insider’s knowledge to pin down the hidden principals. What made his case more politically important is the kidnapping. This, in itself, promises an entire panoply of issues related to Malacañang use of executive power.
The instruction of the president for government to work with private business sector, academe and Church in the anti-corruption work and the sudden interest of the Ombudsman and DOJ in the ZTE-NBN case aim to seize initiative in the issue. The NBI raid on Lozada’s office, on the other hand, is more in the same league as the failed discrediting of Lozada for corruption.
Many top officials in the GMA administration have been put on the spot, had their reputation besmirched, or are in danger of prosecution themselves because of their actions in defense of the Arroyo family. They are under intense pressure from their own families, friends, and peers to stand for truth and decency on the issues confronting the First Family.
The signal role of the Lozada case is in bringing forth these pressures. In turn, the pressure on the president to resign will intensify. Ironically, the effective pressure may come from her own official family and camp rather than from the outside.