Interesting language on Cha-cha coming out of pro-administration legislators these days. Sen. Miriam Santiago recently said that the push for charter change in the lower House should be suspended, warning of a situation similar to Thailand. Speaker Prospero Nograles, while asserting that the charter change initiative should continue, also admitted that this needs the cooperation of the Senate and the electorate. Newly-elected Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile came out with the statement that charter change will not be supported in his chamber.
Just over a month ago, former President Fidel Ramos opined to newsmen that charter change is three years late and should not be pursued anymore. Major leaders of charter change before such as Prof. Jose Abueva, Atty. Raul Lambino, PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio, and Lito Lorenzana all are singing NO to Charter change today.
Despite all these, there is the desperately aggressive–if lonely–battle waged by KAMPI, Cong. Luis Villafuerte, and Cong. Mikey Arroyo to pursue charter change. However, the Arroyo group has been put on the defensive. They had to make some sleight-of-hand tricks just to ease the anti-charter change pressures.
One, they had to come out in public that there would not be a proposal for extension of term in the constituent assembly. In the flurry of these type of pronouncements, they conveniently forgot that a constituent assembly, being a plenary body, can do exactly that–propose term extensions. The problem is that the opposite to their stated denial is exactly what the public believes in due to the huge GMA unpopularity.
Two, they had to pursue the increasingly absurd push for charter change amidst an unfavorable national situation marked by fresh revelations on ZTE-NBN, fertilizer fund scam, and brown-bag pay-offs in Malacañang, and pressing concern on impact of the global recession.
However, the more pressing aspect of the current situation is the opening of a window of political vulnerability on the part of GMA. She is now presiding over an increasingly fragile coalition and facing a more determined opposition bent on getting her out of Malacañang. The NCRPO–the anti-coup defense unit guarding the Metro Manila area has just activated and will be on full alert this month at least. It is also not a coincidence that GMA is frequently out of the country even on lesser excuses for a presidential presence.
The cold months ahead will be tension-filled, to say the least. Fire in the ice!