The Supreme Court, in a tight 8-7 decision, declared the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 unconstitutional. The reported swing vote was that of Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, the last appointee of former President Fidel Ramos. There were also reports that two of those in the minority tried to discern the majority vote before they cast their own votes–hinting of a possible indecision.
The votes of the seven were predictably in line with the broad hints that Malacañang had been giving the justices, that is, declare the suit as moot and academic and citing the withdrawal of the Executive from the MOA-AD. This is, of course, to preserve flexibility in negotiations and avoid complicating the current political crisis. For one, an unfavorable decision can be a basis for a credible impeachment of the president.
Though it is still too early to say, the breaking of ranks among the pro-GMA in the SC indicates that the hands at the helm of power is slipping, that the lameduck scenario is developing, and that the ruling coalition may be headed for a public break. This will have a deleterious effect on the current Charter change initiative of the GMA forces and suggests a favorable turn for a possibly successful impeachment move .
The scenario to watch out for is how the non-GMA political groups in the ruling coalition will cast their choice in the current situation. Will they opt for a continued GMA stay in power which almost will result in the deepening of the political crisis? Or will they try for a serious presidentiable outside of ruling coalition which makes them junior partners in the next ruling coalition? Or will they stick it out with their own presidentiable, hoping he or she will win and thereby preserve their hold on power?
The SC decision means–playing their cards close to their chests–that they are preserving their options. However, in two of them, there’s no GMA in the picture.