Friday, March 26, 2010

Gloria, a force to reckon with in House

By Gerry Baldo

Original Story:

Win or lose, outgoing President Arroyo will still be a force to reckon with.

Even if Arroyo loses the Speakership fight when the 15th Congress opens, she will still be a power to contend with.

If Mrs. Arroyo succeeds in winning a House seat in the Second District of her home province Pampanga, she could be a strong force, enough to oust a sitting president, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino vice presidential candidate Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay added that whether or not a “Rep. Gloria Arroyo” gets the House speakership, she and a few loyal followers of around 90 lawmakers could prove to be a potent group that could threaten the next president with an impeachment case.

“If Arroyo captures just one-third of the House of Representatives, then she will hurdle the constitutional threshold of impeaching the MalacaƱang’s occupant,” he warned.

“Whether she is Speaker of the House or minority leader with 90 congressmen behind her, she is in a position to undermine the next president.” Binay added.

Binay posited that Mrs. Arroyo would still have the edge in both instances when she gains the speakership or loses the fight to become the minority leader with only 90 allies behind her.

She can leverage this group into a potent impeachment bloc that can “boot out or blackmail” the next president, Binay stressed.

“It will be a win-win situation for her. If she gets 136 members of the 270-person House, then she ascends to the Speaker’s throne. If she loses and becomes the minority leader with 90 diehards, then she can still impeach her successor,” Binay said .

That impeachment will be “automatic,” Binay said,

“The 1987 Constitution says if you can get one-third of the House to sign the impeachment complaint, the articles of impeachment go straight to the Senate for trial That’s the impeachment arithmetic,” he added.

In drawing up the impeachment complaint, “Minority Leader Gloria Arroyo” need not apply stringent standards in stringing together allegations against the sitting president , Binay said.

“This is because the business of impeachment is not a judicial proceeding but a political act. Proof does not count, but numbers do,” Binay said.

“If one-third of the House members say ‘we do not like the President’, and indict him on the flimsiest of charges, the House will have no option but to rubberstamp its consent and express deliver the impeachment papers to the Senate where a trial would then take place,” he said.

While Arroyo is gunning for the top House post, “her fallback position presents her with many tantalizing prospects .Even as a minority leader, she can make it her career to oust the president,” he said.

“With just 90 members, she can already dangle the ‘impeachment Sword of Damocles’ over the head of the president. If she succeeds in sewing up votes enough to elect her House Speaker, she can do a lot of mischief,” adding that it is becoming clear that Arroyo will use the House of Representatives as a “command post from where she will direct the siege of the presidency.

“Arroyo is clearly buying a very costly political insurance. Because she knows she will at least be investigated for abuses she committed in her 10 years in power, she is building up her retaliatory capability. She is basically forming a Batasan-based coalition that will obstruct justice,” Binay said.

But Arroyo will not meet the newly- elected president with “guns blazing,” Binay predicts. “She will first attempt to strike a deal with him. She would probably tell him, “If you want peace, leave me alone. If you run after me, I will go after your scalp.”

That deal might be accepted by other presidentiables “with backbones as hard as a leche flan,” Binay said. “But trust me, an Estrada-Binay administration will reject it. We fight. She cannot blackmail us.”

House sources said that this early a close ally of Arroyo has been doing the rounds among lawmakers to solicit their support in the Speakership race.

The same source, however, said that Mrs. Arroyo’s bid for the speakership would largely depend on who wins the presidency in May.

“An antagonistic president can ruin her plans,”the same source said yesterday.

The source explained that lawmakers

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