Whenever I happen to be driving in mid-afternoon, I listen to Joel Reyes Zobel, one of the more (or should I say few?) thoughtful radio anchors around. Yesterday, I heard him raise an interesting point.
He blamed the Venable contract, which sought to source US support for constitutional change in the Philippines, directly on the Garcillano scandal. "Kung hindi nag-hello si GMA kay Garci," I distinctly remember him saying, there would have been no Venable contract in the first place. Why? Because the President embraced constitutional change only as a last-ditch effort to save herself, to give her what ex-President Ramos and Speaker de Venecia, the leading proponents of an amended constitution, call a "graceful exit."
It still isn’t clear exactly when the National Security Adviser, Norberto Gonzales Jr., started negotiating with Venable, but it does seem very likely that that partly shaded green light he said the President had given him occurred sometime during the seven or so weeks before the State of the Nation Address (the day he signed the now-rescinded contract). Zobel’s point remains conjecture, but I think it is a profitable one.
This is what the leaders of the political opposition should keep reminding themselves: A hundred days after the Garcillano scandal first surfaced, the real issue is still Garcillano. It is good that even Rep. Francis Escudero now admits that the impeachment cases filed in June and July against the President were now "procedurally dead." This should enable the opposition to drop the Lozano complaints for the brittle deadwood they are, and to look for a new, stronger lever with which to prise GMA out of Malacanang.
That lever, as Zobel reminded me, lies in deconstructing Garci: the tapes, the election fraud they point ineluctably to, the cover-up they set in motion.