BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS
‘Tuwid na Daan has been set aside.. Right now, it’s realpolitik.’
POOR Gus Lagman. He didn’t know what hit him.
Never did he imagine that we would be collateral damage in President Aquino’s rabid pursuit to make Gloria Arroyo accountable for her crimes against the Filipino people.
As a commissioner in the Commission on Election, never did it cross Lagman’s mind that he would be a factor in the impeachment against Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, which is related to Aquino’s crusade against Arroyo.
Last week, Communications Strategy Secretary Ricky Carandang announced that the President would not issue an ad-interim appointment for Lagman, who has not been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, chaired by Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile because they have been informed by CA members that “ it will be difficult, if not impossible, to confirm him.”
Carandang denied that the decision not to re-appoint Lagman in the Comelec had anything to do with the Corona impeachment, being presided by Enrile.
Of course, no one believes that. The choice was between Lagman and Enrile.
Enrile wants Lagman’s head for allegedly shaving two million of his votes and that of other senatorial candidates of the Grand Allliance for Democracy, the opposition party, in the 1987 elections in favor of the candidates of President Cory Aquino’s party.
Lagman then was as the one in charge of the automated parallel count of the National Movement for Free Elections.
Lagman found Enrile’s accusations preposterous because the official count was done by Comelec headed then by Christian Monsod and had members known for their integrity like Haydee Yorac.
Lagman, in his letter to friends, said, “Malacañang explained to me that they thought it best not to renew my appointment in order to save me from having to go through the ordeal of a confirmation hearing where I could be rejected.
“I truly appreciate their concern and, initially, I also thought that that would be best. However, after thinking about it the last few days, I am now convinced that I would much prefer to be given my day in court, i.e., go through the confirmation process despite the risk of a rejection. “
No way. Malacañang won’t dare antagonize Enrile, whose vote in the Corona impeachment is crucial.
Malacañang needs 16 votes to convict Corona, who needs eight votes to block his conviction. Now, Malacañang can be assured of eight votes from Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona, III, Antonio Trillanes IV and Edgardo Angara.
If they get Enrile, it is expected that they would also get the votes of those known to be close to the Senate President: Gregorio Honasan, Jinggoy Estrada, and Tito Sotto.
The only vote that Corona is assured of is Joker Arroyo.
The votes of the rest Manny Villar, Pia Cayetano, Alan Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Lito Lapid will require Malacañang’s persuasive powers to get them.
It is clear, therefore, that Malacañang cannot afford to lose Enrile.
The Movement for Good Governance, a civil society group that supported Aquino, headed by former Economic Planning Secretary Solita Collas-Monsod and former Finance Undersecretary Milwida M. Guevara wrote the President asking that he reconsider Lagman’s Comelec appointment.
They said: “Gus has served our country well. He should be allowed to defend himself publicly from any accusation on his integrity and competence and the President should be the first to uphold that right by reappointing him and sending out the message to his allies in the Congress that they better have valid grounds to reject him.”
They reminded him of his “Tuwid na Daan” mantra: “Does not “daan na matuwid” also mean that those who are willing to serve the government and have the integrity and competence to do so should be protected from the dirt of politics or the whims of politicians that cannot stand critical public scrutiny? Instead, Gus was unceremoniously set aside even if he was willing to be subjected to the harshest of possible treatment by the Commission of Appointments because he was confident that he could answer the accusations before the public.
“Are not people like him worthy of presidential support? Isn’t this a good opportunity to test the efficacy of the system of confirmation which is supposed not only to safeguard the public interest from unworthy nominees but is also designed to lay bare for the public to see whenever the process is used for self-aggrandizement and political blackmail?”
These people do not understand. “Tuwid na Daan” has been set aside for awhile. That will again be bannered again when the President delivers his next State of the Nation Address.
Right now, it’s realpolitik.