By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — First, they made sure that House Resolution 1109 was passed before Congress went into recess. The attendance during the voting was one of the highest in the history of the Lower House. There were reports that after the voting, there was a long queue of legislators leading to the office of House Speaker Prospero Nograles. For what reason? Did they carry magic paper bags afterwards? Nobody knows except the Dishonorable Congressmen.
Shortly thereafter, erstwhile Marcos loyalist Oliver Lozano, who has the habit of filing cases in accordance with the Arroyo government’s designs, filed a petition before the Supreme Court to force it to rule on the constitutionality of House Resolution 1109, which seeks to convene Congress into a constituent assembly with the Senate and Lower House voting as one. To the surprise of Arroyo’s allies in the Lower House, the Supreme Court junked Lozano’s petition, ruling that it was premature. Now the Lower House has to make good its threat of convening the constituent assembly and overwhelming the Senate with the plurality of its votes. Their only problem is they have to bear the brunt of the people’s anger if they did so — not an enticing position considering that the 2010 elections are less than a year away. Nevertheless, the option of convening a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution to allow President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to run as representative then prime minister remains.
Recently, the Filipino people had to suffer watching two circuses: the poll automation controversy and the bombings cum destabilization plot.
The automation of the 2010 elections was put in jeopardy when Smartmatic’s local partner Total Information Management (TIM) suddenly pulled out of the consortium that won the Commission on Elections (Comelec) bidding. By Friday July 3, a week after the dispute erupted, Comelec chairman Jose Melo announced that Smartmatic Corp. and TIM have settled their differences and the automation of the 2010 elections would push through.
However, the reason for TIM’s pullout and the terms of the settlement between the two companies remain a mystery. There were suspicions that people close to the president caused the rift to block the automation of the 2010 elections and prepare the ground for massive cheating or declaring a failure of elections. The Comelec’s announcement, however, did not assuage the fears of the public. The suspicion that the whole controversy is being staged to condition the public’s mind and prepare the ground for a declaration of the failure of elections in May 2010 still lingers. With this supposed controversy, another option is available to the Arroyo government for ensuring its continued stay in power.
Then came the bombings and a supposed destabilization plot. Nobody was injured in the bombing at the Office of the Ombudsman June 28, and the bombs discovered at the compound of the Department of Agriculture and the One Burgundy Plaza along Katipunan Avenue were reportedly harmless. However, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. was quick to surmise that these were part of a “destabilization plot trend.” Is the Arroyo government conditioning the mind of the public on the possibility of declaring martial law? Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, an architect of the 1972 declaration of martial law, thinks it is stupidity on the part of the Arroyo government if it declares martial law now. Enrile added that it took former president Ferdinand Marcos three years to prepare for the declaration of martial law. Enrile has probably forgotten that in February 2006, about three years and four months ago, the Arroyo government tested the waters by declaring a state of national emergency through Presidential Proclamation 1017 (PP 1017). PP 1017 even contained formulations identical to Marcos’s Proclamation 1081 declaring martial law.
Amending the Constitution — as Marcos had also done — declaring a failure of elections, and proclaiming martial law are three options available to the Arroyo government to perpetuate itself in power to elude justice for the blatant corruption, bribery and plunder, the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human-rights violations it has committed. It appears that these options are being readied now. It is therefore important for the Filipino people to exercise vigilance and to make sure that Arroyo steps down on or before 2010. (Bulatlat.com)