Confronted by a broad array of forces opposed to Cha Cha, the Arroyo government is gambling with its fortunes. It is banking on the probability that chances for its ouster are getting slimmer as 2010 nears. It is hoping that the broad array of forces opposed to Cha Cha would not be able to muster enough people in mass mobilizations to constitute a threat to its rule.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Even as Malacañang is belittling the December 12 interfaith rally in Makati and the pronouncements of various groups and personalities against renewed moves to amend the 1987 Constitution dubbed as “Cha Cha”, its actions prove otherwise. The Philippine National Police (PNP) decided, on the day itself, to increase the number of its troops that guarded the Makati rally from 3,200 to 4,700. The PNP had to deploy troops from as far as Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, and Bicol. This did not yet include forces from the police and Presidential Security Group that guarded the area surrounding Malacañang, the police that guarded the EDSA shrine and conducted patrols around the area, and those which blocked entry points to the National Capital Region.
Also on the same day, Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile, a staunch Arroyo ally, announced that there was no need for a rally against Cha Cha as the Senate had already passed a resolution blocking efforts of the House of Representatives to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly. As a sweetener, Budget Sec. Rolando Andaya announced that government employees would receive their P10,000 Christmas bonus on December 15.
Signs of desperation from Malacañang did not only manifest on December 12. Earlier, it belittled the pronouncement of Mike Velarde of El Shaddai that he would muster his forces to hold rallies against Cha Cha but sought him out later.
The deeper sign of desperation of the Arroyo government could be seen in its obstinate efforts at Cha Cha. It knows that a broad section of Philippine society is against it. Different sectors, including the Catholic church, have warned that they would hold demonstrations to derail the Cha Cha train of the Arroyo government. The Arroyo government has been banking on the support of a section of the Catholic bishops and of big business, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the PNP, and the US to stave off calls for its ouster. Now, in addition to the Catholic church, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the pro-Arroyo section of big business, is also against amending the Constitution before 2010, saying that it is untimely and divisive.
Surveys have also shown that majority of Filipinos are against it.
The Arroyo government is now left with its allies in the Lower House and local governments, the AFP and PNP, and the US in its gambit for Cha Cha. Its intransigent stance was further demonstrated when its allies in the Lower House threatened to unseat newly installed House Speaker Prospero Nograles when he expressed his openness to a Constitutional Convention as a means to amending the 1987 Constitution. It would be remembered that Rep. Prospero Nograles was merely a beneficiary of the ouster of Jose de Venecia as House Speaker, which was orchestrated by no less than Arroyo’s son Mikey who is now leading efforts at pushing for Cha Cha through Congress convening itself as a Constituent Assembly.
It had tried and failed before in 2006. But Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies are trying again to ensure its future beyond 2010.
The Arroyo government is playing a gamble. It is banking on the probability that chances for its ouster are getting slimmer as 2010 nears. It is hoping that the broad array of forces opposed to Cha Cha would not be able to muster enough people in mass mobilizations to constitute a threat to its rule.
But the December 12 interfaith rally that gathered 10,000 from a broad spectrum of people is just the beginning. (Bulatlat.com)>