The lack of a credible successor for Noynoy, one that would match up with Vice President Jojo Binay, who had revealed his presidential cards early on shortly after snaring his post in 2010, is likely behind the renewed push for Charter Change (Cha-cha).
After being certain of control in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the first agenda laid out was the push to amend the Constitution.
The ruse is that there is a crying need to revise the economic provisions particularly parts in the Constitution that limits foreign ownership in some local businesses and the ban on foreigners to own land.
Immediately, Noynoy has started issuing statements about his unshakable position to reject the calls to tamper with the Charter stating that even with the restrictions on foreign ownership, the country would be attracting foreign investors using China as an example.
Is he again going to portray himself as a “reluctant” Charter changer, to impress upon the people that he doesn’t want to, but is forced to and therefore will do so anyway?
The results of the elections point to a problem that continues to bug the Liberal Party (LP) more than the lack of foreign investments which would be the shortage of a presidential timber after Noynoy.
All the names being floated are outside of the party, and Mar Roxas, the perennial Binay rival, lacks the punch that would make him a threat to the Vice President, although with the usual Hocus PCOS, he just might have it.
Noynoy remains the strongest LP figure and the six-year term limit without re-election in the Constitution means that his term ends in 2016, unless Cha-cha comes into play and term limits are lifted.
Public approval surveys, if one still finds them credible, however, showed that Noynoy always closely follows the consistently top rating Binay, who both receives net rating of over 60 percent.
It would not take a huge effort to swing a win for Noynoy in a hypothetical matchup with Binay for the presidency and the LP appears determined to turn this hypothesis into reality through Cha-cha.
Noynoy needs to feign his opposition to the move since he would be a main beneficiary of Charter change if the term limit on the president is amended. Gloria did the same in the Cha-cha and constituent assembly (con-ass) bid to install her as Prime Minister through a parliamentary shift. While her allies worked relentlessly to swing Cha-cha, she tried to detach herself from the moves saying that her focus is on strengthening the economy, obviously to shield her from the public outrage that followed.
Nevertheless, her craving for power betrayed her being behind these efforts.
This time around, what is being floated is that Noynoy’s claimed credible leadership provides a window for a rational discussion on Cha-cha.
The talk had turned again to the con-ass route to amend the Constitution as a result of the dominance of the LP and its allies of the House.
The Senate is also now considered to be dominated by allies of Noynoy and the former’s resistance to Cha-cha moves in the chamber can now be overcome.
Noynoy continues to fake his opposition to the moves against Cha-cha but what is conspicuous enough is the absence of any statement from Noynoy telling his allies to stop reviving the Cha-cha efforts and instead concentrate on their main job of legislating until his term ends.
The possible outcome would be Noynoy supposedly giving in to a made-up public clamor for either Cha-cha or a con-ass.
With LP’s shallow bench of potential timbers, the effort it seems to overhaul the Constitution with whatever means and tap Noynoy for a rerun comes out preferable in maintaining its hold on government.
Election watchdogs seem to be merely waiting for the smoke to clear up in the recent elections before filing the various cases that have lined up against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the disastrous conduct of the recent elections.
From the absence of the required integrity checks to the massive breakdowns of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, pre-programmed memory cards, the delay in the transmission of results, and the mad rush in the proclamation of the candidates, all these and many more are expected to face legal challenges.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.’s cavalier manner of dismissing the complaints as nothing but efforts to discredit the Comelec and the automated elections process should also be brought to question, if not legally, then through a legislative inquiry.
Brillantes seems more interested, for instance, in shielding Smartmatic from public criticisms on its faulty system more than guaranteeing the integrity of the electoral process.
When questions were raised on the inability of Comelec to present the source code of the PCOS machines for inspection of political parties and technology experts, the blame was mostly directed at software supplier Dominion Voting Systems and not Smartmatic, which was the seller of the PCOS machines.
The PCOS machines and the, automated polls system was first leased from the Smartmatic-TIM consortium in the 2010 elections for something like P11 billion and it was sold to the government for an additional P2 billion before the 2013 elections.
The Smartmatic system was already found to be full of defects in the 2010 elections and many of the serious issues raised against its use were never resolved up to the present.
The legal suits that will be filed against Comelec is necessary if only to assure that the next presidential elections wouldn’t have the same disastrous fate as that of the previous two elections.
The absence of an assurance on the reliability of the Smartmatic system poses questions on the beneficiaries of the defective results including Noynoy.
The resolution of the questions thus is necessary to clear up doubts on those now who have been seated into elective posts.
The haste at which the 12 senators were proclaimed will likely be the first challenge that Comelec is expected to face which many, even including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban who said the Comelec proclamations were done with undue haste and had no legal and factual basis.
Some of the proclaimed senators expressed reservations over the rush in which Comelec did the ceremonies but they were threatened or blackmailed by Brillantes to submit to his whim or risk not being proclaimed at all.
The losing candidates also have all the reason to file a protest particularly those in the Senate race with the probability of winning had the election process been done in an orderly manner.
Brillantes, in rejecting all the complaints, is not doing any service to the electoral process since the lingering doubts in the conduct of the 2010 automated elections were further reinforced by the same problems that recurred and proved to have worsened in the just concluded exercise.
Even the constant threat of Brillantes to resign if he is proven wrong on most of his actions is not a justification to let go of the valid arguments pointing to a failed election.
Brillantes knows that the legal challenges are coming his way in volumes.
He also knows that time is in his hands with the slow grind of the judiciary in this country.
Where is the logic in the Palace rationalizing for an indefinite period whether or not it should issue an official apology of Noynoy to Taiwan to end a needless international conflict?
It seems that Malacañang has lost all its mental faculties in the manure that had piled up out of its hubris to withhold a civilized act.
The death of the Taiwanese was an accident as a result of that country’s fishing vessel intruding into Philippine territory as claimed by the Philippine Coast Guard and which needs proving in the investigation being done by both countries. But the fact that a life was lost in the process evinces the need for a formal expression of regret that continues to be withheld.
The One-China policy is being bandied about as the complication in the process of handing out a government apology to Taiwan and that China, according to Manila Economic Cooperation Office (MECO), the de facto embassy in Taiwan, and some Palace officials, may react negatively to a Noynoy apology and treat it as an official engagement of the Philippines with Taiwanese officials.
Leadership is all about taking the consequences of an act deemed right or proper and in the current rift with Taiwan, the only proper response from Noynoy is to issue an apology and deal with China later.
An apology cannot be taken as a break or even a threat to formal relations with China, which itself had sided with Taiwan on the issue.
The lack of reason in the stable of Noynoy sticks out like a sore thumb on the administration’s indecisiveness on the Taiwan issue.
The leadership vacuum was even mistaken by Taiwan as stubbornness of Noynoy in rejecting an act of contrition.
In a sense, the absence of any action from Noynoy after the death of the Taiwanese fanned the anger in the island territory which Filipino expatriates are now being forced to endure.
Taiwan said the expressions of regret informally through the designated low-level emissaries were inadequate which Noynoy then responded to, by tiptoeing an expression of regret to maintain a safe distance which the Palace believes will prevent irritating China.
In the process, the belated apology sent through a MECO official further aggravated the sense of disregard Taiwan had accused the administration of Noynoy.
Worse, the government apparently rejected the holding of a joint probe on the incident after the Taiwanese team sent to the country left in a huff during the weekend, after some of its members told a media briefing that fisherman Hung Shih-Cheng was murdered by Philippine state forces.
The apparent outburst from the Taiwanese, however, resulted from what the investigators said was the refusal of the Philippine government to cooperate in the probe.
They may be right at that, because from the start, there was that hard line position of the Palace and the Justice chief on their refusal for a joint probe, again using the One China policy, which is absurd.
The team was resent to the country by its government seeking a joint probe but was turned down with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima saying that a parallel, not a joint probe would be undertaken.
The probe, however, is more crucial for the interest of the Taiwanese who see themselves as the aggrieved party on the incident rather than the Filipinos, who all except for Noynoy’s pea-brained advisers acknowledge the need for a public apology as what Taiwan is demanding.
The absence of a resolute action from Noynoy, meanwhile, has been exploited by China to add pressure to the Philippines amid a territorial conflict.
The sum is a total loss for national interest.
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