Politics of re-affiliation

I was intrigued by the Star story on the Lakas-Kampi "let’s-smoke-the-pipe-and-bury-the-hatchet-in-someone-else’s-back" closed-door negotiations.

[House Majority Leader Prospero] Nograles said Kampi decided to "re-affiliate" with Lakas again, solidifying support for Cha-cha and the President’s political base in the process. "Along with it, the party line on issues like Charter change shall be observed and respected," he said.

Speaker Jose de Venecia sees the re-affiliation as a sign that Ronnie Puno, Louie Villafuerte et al have climbed on board the Charter change express.

De Venecia said with the two largest political groups in his chamber supporting the Cha-cha initiative, "there will be no more turning back on constitutional reforms that could save the country."

But Puno, the president of the other party that calls GMA its titular head, and Villafuerte see it differently. Kampi is on board the train, yes, but mainly to make sure it won’t make a certain scheduled stop along the way.

"We will take up only that resolution. The committee’s proposed amendments would be set aside. We did not want to be locked in to a set of proposals," [Puno] said.

Villafuerte said Kampi’s stand presented during the meeting was that the joint session could consider any Cha-cha proposal, provided that it does not disturb the full six-year term that the President was elected to serve in May 2004.

I have always thought that Kampi’s renewed high profile was an index of the President’s confidence; the higher it went, the more the President seemed confident she could survive her crisis of legitimacy, even without JDV’s help. (Of course, part of the dynamic is her felt need not to put all her eggs in De Venecia’s basket; at least, that is what we think she would do, if she were, quite reasonably, to hedge her bets.)

In the last couple of weeks, then, and judging mainly by the activities of political smooth operators like Puno and Villafuerte, it seems reasonable to conclude that the President is having a change of heart about the political cost of JDV’s help. De Venecia and ex-President Fidel Ramos, the real eminences of the Lakas party, have not been shy about computing the cost: It amounts to GMA cutting her term short.

Earlier today, something happened in Congress which piqued my curiosity even more: An administration congressmen moved to have all positions in the House declared vacant. Rep. Antonio Cerilles said he was frustrated by the continuing lack of quorum.

"Some would look at what I am saying this evening as maybe a warning. (But) I am serious, serious because we are mandated by the Constitution. A Constitution that gives the power of the purse to this Congress," he said.

"I have to stand and state my case because I cannot just sit here and look at the scenario wherein the Filipino people will be at a loss," he said. "That is why I think there is a need to declare all seats vacant so that maybe there will be more energy in this House."

"…So Mr. Speaker, I move that all positions be declared vacant. Is there anybody to second the motion? Anyone from the opposition? I reiterate the motion," he stressed.

[There is a longer version of the events, told from a different angle, in tomorrow’s issue of the Inquirer.]

"Anyone from the opposition?" Curioser and curioser.

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