Cons Ass is dead, Con Asses in disarray
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2006-12-10
My, what a hasty retreat Speaker Joe de Venecia and the Con Asses just made. They were so sure of themselves last Thursday that they had the numbers. Yesterday, they looked like they were all alone.

Con Asses: what a very apt term for the new monstrosity of a breed of pro-administration congressmen who so brashly railroaded the convening of a Constituent Assembly. But the Con Asses can't be all that smart. In the final analysis, I do believe they have done all of us a great favor.

It was a sickening sight to see rabid legislators on live television riding on their prerogative as majority, driving their agenda hard, turning black into white and ignoring long-standing rules of Congress, all for patently selfish interests and self-preservation.

Blinded by their dream of extending beyond their terms and assuming both legislative and executive functions in a parliamentary system, these Con Asses have accelerated the inevitable, that dreaded day of reckoning.

Since July 2005, the opposition could not present a credible face, program and reason why people should bother to pour into the streets again like they did in February 1986 and January 2001 to settle the legitimacy issue of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Thanks to the ChaCha (Charter Change) extravaganza of Congressmen Luis Villafuerte, Constantino Jaraula, Edsel Lagman, Douglas Cagas et al last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the whole town is humming again and building up to a confrontation mood.

Madame Arroyo was becoming comfortable and settled where she is. Now that her congressional allies has opened the Con Ass Pandora's Box, it may well look like she had been just sitting right in the deceitfully quiet eye of a super political typhoon.

Thanks to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al � even the usually compliant Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai is agitating to take to the streets with his flock. In low profile as in the past, I have it on good authority that the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) will join forces with El Shaddai, in common cause against Con Ass.

Actually, I think that Bishop Erano Manalo of the INC and Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai will be the last persons to favor the shift to a parliamentary form of government. Their voting blocks are valuable in national elections such as that of the presidential system. In a parliamentary system of government, their voters, spread out in so many districts, lose their value and impact.

The middle class that the opposition had been unable to stir to repeat their EDSA I and EDSA II political feats is now set to challenge Con Ass in the streets. EDSA I and EDSA II were propelled by middle class repulsion to the Marcos and Estrada regimes. Just as Madame Arroyo felt that the political waters were safe, Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al succeeded in stirring the sector of society that is known to engineer political upheaval and change.

Since the Garci Tapes crisis emerged, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) could not throw their full weight behind the opposition. The CBCP could only issue the occasional support for the quest for the truth but could do nothing more to help bring it out. Now, thanks to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al and the CBCP is poised to take the lead in fighting this Con Ass abomination.

After the clampdown on the alleged coup plotters of February 24 � a coup that had all the characteristics of the legitimate January 2001 EDSA II mode for change � the military has been quiet. Thanks to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al and coup rumors have been flying about since Thursday.

The usual suspects in the military must be saying: "If they can do a constitutional "coup d'etat" (as constitution expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ called the Con Ass on TV Patrol) then we also have the right to do a real coup." How will Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al now argue in the face of such logic, especially if that line of reasoning is delivered by men with assault rifles in hand?

Thanks to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al and those of us who entertained thoughts that the parliamentary form of government offers salvation � are now convinced that a parliament run by these men and women who railroaded Con Ass is the end of all of us. Now we realize that the present system that the Con Asses claim has failed never had a chance precisely because of them who now want to change it.

Thanks indeed to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al and there is optimism that the Con Asses won't get the numbers in the Supreme Court, now in the post Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban era. New Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has set the tone on how the high court will likely treat this issue. Chief Justice Puno categorically denied that his appointment is leveraged with passage of Con Ass in the high court, calling attention to his record of independence.

In other words, Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al kicked up so much controversy and public outrage that no Supreme Court Justice would now even want to consider being party to its legalization. Those seven Justices who favored the People's Initiative are not automatic rubber stamps who will favor this Con Ass.

I've known Associate Justice Rene Corona since our Ateneo de Manila Grade School days. Rene and I are part of the High School Class of 1966 that marked its Ruby Anniversary with a series of events in and out of the Loyola campus the past four days. The Rene Corona I know will not agree to be a party to this Con Ass and be on the wrong side of history.

Imagine that � putting together the CBCP, INC, El Shaddai, middle class, restive military and maybe even the hungry and assumingly angry urban and rural poor in fighting mood. We have to tip our hats to Congressmen Villafuerte, Jaraula, Lagman, Cagas et al for this rare feat in Philippine politics which had always been marked by disunity.

With allies like these, her liver is the least of Madame Arroyo's problems. Despite what you and I may think of her, you have to credit Madame Arroyo for having superb survival instincts. My political instincts tell me that the press conference of Speaker Joe de Venecia and the Con Asses yesterday could well be the result of Madame Gloria's expected somersault after the public outrage. Maybe she already threatened to junk Con Ass which is why Joe and the Con Asses retreated.

Just as the television cameras showed the salivating faces of Con Asses forcing the issue last Thursday, it was also television that showed defeat written all over the faces of the Con Asses yesterday. Cutting through the garbage, Joe and the Con Asses were desperately trying to save face and search for a graceful exit from the hole they dug themselves in.

We're not of course surprised that they are now trying to shift the focus on the Senate, a cheap shot if you ask me. But why should the more cerebral Senate play to their tune? I think Senator Dick Gordon made the right reaction � Cha Cha is a Lower House thing and that the new congress and Senate after the May 2007 elections should decide if they want it.

I'm sure historian Renato Constantino's expression of outrage drew empathy from millions who saw that coverage of the Con Asses retreat over ANC. Constantino expressed the outrage that many Filipinos felt.

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