There is a gathering consensus among most political actors in the midst of the brazen–if forlorn–charter change attempt by Malacañang. This is to stop it–and stop it decisively. The whole political opposition, the presidentiables, the Senate, civil society organizations, media people, and significant military groups have all shown their anti-Cha-cha sentiments. Significant religious groups and personalities, including Catholic Manila archdiocese head Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, CBCP president and Jaro archdiocese head Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the Jesus Is Lord movement leader Eddie Villanueva, and El Shaddai head Mike Velarde are among the recent voices against it.
Against universal disbelief, palace spokespersons and the House cha-cha proponents, including the president’s own son Mikey Arroyo, appear almost comical in their protestations that the Constituent Assembly being proposed without the Senate will not tackle their self-serving scheme to extend GMA’s stay in power. The arrogance of power–and the seemingly endless flow of bribe money–are thought by their political operators as enough to get the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Commission on Elections to pass the amendments required to maintain Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo–and her cronies–in power.
All these machinations will come to naught as the overwhelming anti-GMA sentiments among the people are steadily being mobilized behind an anti-Charter change movement. People power is already poised around the corner, in conjunction with other opposition initiatives.
The situation is now nearing a crisis point. Further moves by Malacañang to push the charter change agenda will push the whole situation into the scenario of her immediate ouster, by forced resignation or by removal. Her political isolation is dangerous and opens many other scenarios, constitutional as well as extra-constitutional, as both allies and enemies smell blood and race each other for positioning in the post-GMA political environment.
The insoluble problem of GMA political strategists is the classic choice between the perils of Scylla, in the form of her immediate ouster and the jaws of Charybdis, in the form of her lameduck presidency (which may still lead to her ouster). Persisting with charter change is Scylla’s dinner while abandoning it is Charybdis’ snack.
Extricating from this situation is increasingly difficult. It may be too late now.