Something struck me when I read the Agence France Presse report on Brother Eddie Villanueva’s revelations about so-called transition governments. Unlike the Inq7 story (reported by Joel Francis Guinto, and which narrowed the time frame to late 2005), the AFP report said Villanueva received the feelers "shortly after" the 2004 elections.
This may only be a mistake, perhaps written (or edited in) by someone who does not appreciate the nuance. But it seems to me there is a world of difference between the immediate aftermath of the May 2004 elections, when President Arroyo’s million-vote margin was by and large accepted as fact by a campaign-weary public, and late 2005, when the Hello, Garci tapes had already pushed public opinion decisively in the opposite direction.
A plan to establish a transition government "shortly after" May 2004? That sounds like an ouster plot in search of a justification. If Brother Eddie was quoted correctly, then I think he owes it to the public to explain whether the plotters "shortly after" the elections were the same plotters in late 2005. Does it matter? Yes, I think it does. At the very least, it will help us put things in greater perspective.
Again, and despite the acute crisis of legitimacy that continues to afflict the President, I do not think that a transition government provides the answer. Let’s think about it: Replace an official whose mandate is disputed, precisely because that mandate is in dispute, with personalities who have no mandate at all? Call me naive or a rank optimist, but I still think that the crisis can be resolved by our democratic institutions — yes, despite the shape they’re in. I still think the courts will decide against the creeping encroachments of Proclamation 1017, Executive Order 464, and even the administration’s calibrated preemptive response. (Well, maybe they’ll fudge the last one.) I still think the impeachment process can be made to work. I still think the key lies in electing an impeachment Congress in 2007.
But I do realize that the transition-government idea became more attractive, or at least more rationalizable, after the Garcillano tapes surfaced. The Garci tapes, and the evident attempts at cover-up that came after they were circulated, are the crux. They are the dividing line. Plotters B.G. (before Garcillano) simply could not stomach the idea of six more years of the Arroyo presidency. Regardless of mandate, they wanted her out. Plotters A.G. saw their worst suspicions confirmed, or had their eyes opened.
If we buy the sales pitch of pre-Garci transition-government plotters, well, caveat emptor.