Speakership row: What the people stand to gain

Posted: February 4, 2008 in Socio-Political
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What do the people have to gain from the Speakership row in the House of Representatives?

Not much, really.

Unless current speaker Jose de Venecia makes a clean break from the Arroyo administration, the fight for the speakership is really all about factions of the same ruling class fighting among each other. The intense maneuvering over the past few days is testament to the worst in Philippine politics. We are sure that whatever the outcome of the speakership battle is, the ruling regime will be severely weakened.

Who would have thought it would come to this. The expose’ on the ZTE Broadband scam involving de Venecia’s son Joey drove a wedge between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Speaker de Venecia. Even if de Venecia keeps his post as speaker, the rift may already be irreparable.

Last year, de Venecia seemed to have the upperhand in the fight when there was still an impeachment complaint (or at least the prospect of a serious impeachment bid) pending against Arroyo. There were already threats since last year to oust JDV as House Speaker. To avert this, de Venecia appeared to have the numbers needed to achieve the critical mass to impeach Arroyo. Back then, JDV had the chance to impeach GMA and send the case to the Senate for trial. The Speaker had the initiative.

Unfortunately for him, the impeachment did not materialize because a ceasefire was made between Arroyo and de Venecia. JDV kept his position as House Speaker, but Joey had to be silenced and prevented from making further allegations of corruption involving the First Family.

As expected, the impeachment complaint filed by Pulido was junked and all other impeachment efforts were blocked. Arroyo was safe from impeachment. JDV kept his post. However, as events prove today, the ceasefire was temporary.

It also showed us that everything that happened before was all about leveraging to maintain the status quo (GMA as president, JDV as speaker).

Now without any impeachment complaint, JDV has no leverage against his enemies in the Arroyo administration. The numbers appear to be stacked up against him. The anti-JDV camp smells blood and they are going in for the kill. You can see it from the sinister smiles on the faces of some of them.

De Venecia has warned that he might turn Opposition if he loses the speakership. Of course, that’s already to be expected from him, being spurned and all by Malacañang. That would be the most logical, not to mention easiest, course of action, and one that many people look forward to, if only to see Arroyo’s allies dwindle in number.

If JDV does retain the speakership in exchange for silencing his son Joey in the ZTE corruption scandal, that would be crass opportunism. Not many will be happy with that trade off. That would be trapo politics at its worst.

If JDV does retain the speakership, he should at least take an independent stand from Malacañang. Otherwise, it’s business as usual (read corruption as usual). He should also learn by now that any ceasefire with Arroyo is temporary at best, and moves to oust him will never stop.

The political slugfest in the Lower House will only result into gains for the people if it results in more anti-Arroyo forces.


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