MALAYA  EDITORIAL:  THE  ANTI-CHARTER  CHANGE  ADVOCATE  FOR  HOUSE  SPEAKER

MANILA, MAY 31, 2007 (MALAYA) ‘Everybody would be happy, which is what we suspect all this talk about ousting De Venecia is all about.’

Let the House do its own thing and in a manner of speaking, paddle its own canoe to never-never land."

These were the words of a Cebuano politician with a reputation for being a constitutionalist in a letter to then Senate President Franklin Drilon at the height of the failed charter change campaign last year.

In testimony before the Senate, the writer also derided the House’ attempt to amend the charter by its lonesome. "If the Senate does not agree to change the Constitution, then nothing can be done, no power in heaven can compel this august body to sit with the House," he said.

He added that the Cha-cha drive was only harming the administration of Gloria Arroyo, whom he helped "win" in 2004 and whom he continued to support. And for good measure, he dismissed the claims of Charter change advocates that the 1987 Constitution is the cause of the political crisis the country is facing.

The anti-Charter change advocate? He is former Cebu Gov. Pablo Garcia, a newly elected representative in the incoming 14th Congress.

If for that qualification alone, we would support Garcia’s bid to wrest the House leadership from Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Our reservation is that Garcia appears to be only a cat’s paw of some people who are driven not by respect for the Constitution but by pure, unadulterated lust for the pelf and powers that attach to the leadership of the House.

The move to pit Garcia against De Venecia came from Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, president of Kampi, the party which was formed to serve as the campaign vehicle for the presidential run of Gloria Arroyo.

There is no love lost between Kampi and Lakas of De Venecia. Last month’s election saw the open break between the two administration parties. In the local contests, where the incumbent was Lakas, the challenger allied himself with Kampi. And vice versa.

Arroyo, by allowing Kampi to challenge Lakas, was seen as consolidating her political base and, in effect, putting De Venecia in his place as the junior partner in the administration coalition.

There were also speculations that Arroyo was displeased when De Venecia pressed for Charter change despite a clear overwhelming public opposition to it. It was Arroyo’s dwindling political capital which was being frittered on the unpopular initiative when the intended beneficiary was De Venecia, with his ambition to become prime minister under a parliamentary form of government.

So is it Garcia then as the next Speaker? We would not bet on it. Joe the Venetian has an ace up his sleeve. He could threaten to throw the support of Lakas congressmen loyal to him behind a new impeachment campaign expected to be mounted by the opposition. And Kampi would fold.

But Kampi could exact concessions in the form of chairmanships of powerful House committees. Everybody would be happy, which is what we suspect all this talk about ousting De Venecia is all about.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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