I’m not sure if I read my friend Manolo Quezon correctly. He seemed to be more categorical in his appearance Monday night on the Korina show; his thoughts as written up are expectedly more nuanced. But if my Inquirer colleague is saying that President Arroyo’s eighth State of the Nation Address sent a coded message to her congressional allies to smuggle the Trojan horse of Charter change in already, then I must confess that I don’t get it.
I saw the speech on TV live; I’ve read the speech online twice. But I cannot see the alleged marching orders at all, coded or not. This is not to say that, as Ricky Carandang earlier suggested, Palace operatives are not in fact working to get the Charter change express moving again. It’s just that I don’t see it in the Sona.
In other words, and as far as I can tell, the Sona did not send the word out to the President’s allies to begin working on the complicated logistics of Trojan-horse-smuggling. (Maybe she used other means.)
1. While Moro autonomy makes fullest sense in the context of a federal system (and hence requires constitutional change), the ARMM remains a creation of Congress, not a constitutional convention. Widening its scope, in the event that a plebiscite calls for it, needs only legislative action.
2. Malaysian pressure and economic considerations are driving the government’s peace initiative. It is actually in the government’s strategic interest to delay the peace process; every day of delay strengthens the hand of rebellious or disgruntled Moro Islamic Liberation Front factions, which weakens the hand of the MILF negotiating party.
3. Some of the President’s closest political allies—-local government officials like North Cotabato Gov. (and boxing impresario) Manny Pinol and Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat—-are vehemently opposed to the outline of the peace agreement as it is taking shape. They are the ones who do not want the August 11 ARMM elections to be postponed. The President’s decision to “certify as urgent” the bill seeking a postponement of the polls—-postponement keeps the possibility of an enlarged ARMM voting for new officials, MILF officers perhaps among them, tantalizingly open—-this decision the President’s allies see as approaching betrayal.
The key passage that Manolo quotes
The prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict. A comprehensive peace
has eluded us for half a century. But last night, differences on the
tough issue of ancestral domain were resolved. Yes, there are political
dynamics among the people of Mindanao. Let us sort them out with the
utmost sobriety, patience and restraint. I ask Congress to act on the
legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting
peace during our term of office.
I read not as an order but as an appeal, even a passing of the buck, or at least an attempt to forcibly engage Congress in the on-again, off-again process of “sorting out” the “political dynamics among the people of Mindanao.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: Gloria’s dilemma.