The Senate refused to agree to the Supreme Court-brokered compromise to have Secretary Romy Neri testify before the resolution of his petition to the high court. With this decision, it guaranteed that the ZTE-NBN issue will be there when it comes back after the Holy Week recess.
Malacañang, for its part, revoked Executive Order 464 along with Memorandum Circular 108, both of which form the legal basis used by the Arroyo administration to define the limits of the constitutional provisions on executive privilege. However, this does not remove the president’s power to invoke executive privilege on matters pertaining to the ZTE-NBN case. Despite this, the palace still has to regain political initiative.
The Supreme Court held a public hearing on the Neri petition and offered the compromise while it deliberates on the merits of the various arguments of petitioners and oppositors. This may take at least a month or even longer.
In the meantime, the Senate plans to continue the hearings–possibly with new witnesses–amidst a spreading and more organized public campaign against the Arroyo administration. This maintains pressure on the president while avoiding an immediate decisive confrontation that forces a GMA resignation.
A prolonged crisis scenario without a decisive ending favors those who do not want GMA to resign immediately and therefore usher in a Noli de Castro presidency. If the crisis does not force their hand, they would want to prolong things and bask in the priceless public fascination with the scandal.
What I think we have here is a dribbling of the ball. Meantime, there are unforeseen consequences–not the least of which is a possible polarization of the situation. Only extremes will be glad in the prolonging of the crisis.