Politicians cannot just wait. 2009 will start this early not with the cold in the air, but with the Cha-cha smog all over the political landscape.
President Arroyo started this with a refusal to talk about her views on cha-cha–something guaranteed to make people talk about it. Then Speaker Nograles got into the act with a schedule of House discussions on the Cha-cha, targeting February 2009 to come out with a chamber decision. Then Chairman Ortega of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments added his two-cents worth, commenting that the constituent assembly mode will not likely prosper, but a constitutional convention will be possible.
What is sure is that Charter change is the very first on the agenda of the Arroyo administration. It gets more desperate given the manifest reluctance of Lakas congressmen to go along with it who, silently and cleverly, are stretching the timetable until there’s nothing left of time for it.
The ball has shifted to the kingmakers (or arbiters), with the administration trying to convince the US government and its allies, the AFP’s and PNP’s leaders from the 1976 PMA class, and the business community about a possible martial law regime. This is supposed to maintain the peace in face of a supposed spate of nationwide terrorism, mass discontent, and the negative effects of the coming recession. Incidentally, this would also neatly solve the problems of a recalcitrant political opposition and the vehement people’s objection to a continued Arroyo administration.
Unfortunately for this scenario, kingmakers are precisely kingmakers (or arbiters) because they cannot be easily influenced. On the contrary, they will be influential in a situation of a political stalemate, as what the situation has been for the past three years. All of them have been signaling for the peaceful and democratic change of power through the 2010 elections.
The defeat of the GMA charter change initiative may well signal the end of the GMA adminstration if it fails again to exact an agreement with presidentiables on a post-GMA arrangement. Then, it would be ready, set, and go for GMA’s lameduck presidency and a possible early political demise.