Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, May 11, 2006 edition, p. A6.

My friend from Malacañang said:  “If Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban had heard Secretary Eduardo Ermita explain, ‘We just followed the provisions of the Constitution with much dispatch and objectivity with only the public interest at heart,’ he would not have said, “They are playing with fire and, unless prudently restrained, they may one day wittingly or unwittingly burn down the country.”

“If he only knew,” he added, “Panganiban would not have thought she may be testing the outer limits of presidential prerogatives and the perseverance of this court in safeguarding the people’s constitutionally enshrined liberty.”

I asked him, “Why?”

“Mrs. Arroyo knows what she is doing,” he replied. “She once told me, ‘I believe that I am here now because that is the plan of God for me and for us. As long as I am here, I will do my best to do what is best for our country.’  She is on a mission from God. She means well, ‘pare.”

Secretary Ignacio Bunye bewailed the fact that some people did not acknowledge what Mrs. Arroyo accomplished. He said, “The government acted with decisiveness in dealing with the left-right conspiracy to oust our democratic institutions. It is truly lamentable that some sectors have not recognized this.”

Policeman Vidal Querol took his cue from Bunye and asked me, “Didn’t Mrs. Arroyo shift to Calibrated Preemptive Response out of concern that victory celebrations would go overboard after Congress junked the impeachment?”

I had to admit that she did proclaim that the entire Filipino nation was marking “a glorious day in history” and festivities could have gotten out of hand had she not acted with dispatch.

Mike Defensor caught Querol’s drift and followed up. He asked, “Didn’t Proclamation 1017 make television news more responsible?”

Defensor was not lying. Newsbreak magazine’s latest issue reported, “On the evening of February 26, while Marines Col. Ariel Querubin was holding out at Fort Bonifacio, one of Newsbreak’s sources for a story on the 2004 election cheating decided to bring out photographs of how they did it for Ms. Arroyo…he informed us that his group was giving the photos to TV networks ABS-CBN and GMA-7. The group was expecting that if the photos were shown and explained on TV during those crucial hours, it would outrage the viewing public. The networks decided against airing the photos.”

The score was now two for Gloria’s boys and zero for me. And they were not done yet.

Bunye added, “Congress misunderstood EO 464.”  He said, “It has never been the intent of the Executive department to wage institutional conflict with the Legislative Branch.”

Secretary Ermita provided statistics to prove it. Ermita said that out of 111 Senate hearings, Malaca?ang prohibited executive branch officials from appearing in only 12, the hearings on Northrail, the fertilizer scam and the Hello Garci recordings. In the House, he said that out of 261 hearings, Malaca?ang stayed out of only two, the hearings on the fertilizer scam and the Hello Garci tapes.

I was dumbfounded. And confused. My head was spinning so fast, I began to keel over. That’s when  Atty. Romela Bengzon, the cha-cha booster from New York, came to my rescue. She placed my head on her lap and comforted me with this story.

In her soothing voice, she said, “God told Mrs. Arroyo to become a good president so she appointed Garci to the Comelec to help her become president. So she could become a good president. Because that’s what God wanted her to become.”

She may have cheated and covered-up, but only so she could make the Philippines a strong republic. If Judas did not betray Christ, there would have been no crucifixion and no salvation, right? Unfortunately, a vocal minority has frustrated her, and God’s plan, at every turn.

She has no choice now but to change the Constitution. She will introduce a new form of government where all checks and balances will be eliminated. But there’s nothing to fear. You’re in good hands. Lie back and enjoy it.

I must admit, to lie on Romela’s lap is something I would kill for, but I gathered the remaining strength I could muster and asked her, “Lie back and enjoy it? Isn’t that what the Marines told the girl in the van?”