By a vote of 212 yes to 47 no, the House plenary has approved the articles of impeachment against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. This now sets the stage for the impeachment trial by the Senate when Congress resumes session in May.
The dominant factor in the vote, swamping the opposition, is the huge turn-over of erstwhile allies of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the administration position. The key to the vote, of course, is the political will behind it–no less than President Aquino himself.
The impeachment trial is now in the province of the Senate. Though less certain of the outcome because of the very close balance at present, there are signs that the President may well have his way. One of these is the prevailing very high level of approval and trust that he still enjoys. This translates to a strong public support that can only be bucked by opposition senators at their own political peril. Another is the completion of the Senate through the participation of two erstwhile absent senators–Senator Lacson and Senator Trillanes. The two are expected to have reached a political agreement with the President.
The current standing in the Senate is dicey. The Gutierrez camp will attempt, through the remaining influence of the Arroyos, to reach one or more senators in the ruling coalition and–at least–prevent or cajole him, her, or them from voting for impeachment.
We are in for an interesting season of political combat. It is almost an open secret that the real goal of the whole impeachment exercise is to put pressure on the Arroyo Supreme Court and pave the way for the prosecution on corruption cases against the former president. There’s no love lost between the two presidents, in a manner of speaking. It’s no mercy!