Monday, October 1, 2007

Why resign?

COMELEC Chairperson Benjamin Abalos has consistently denied in his public statements any involvement in the NBN-broadband deal. But as the expose and allegations become more explosive, the COMELEC Chairperson suddenly resigns TODAY.What are the political implications of this act?

Finding a way out. The impeachment rap against Abalos is set to start today and "fast-tracked" by Congress prior to his retirement on February 2008. It was expected he will wage a valiant battle in the impeachment process, or lose everything prior to his retirement from government service. However, the prospect of a long, drawn-out legal battle in the Senate may have been too much for the embattled poll chief. Thus, the way out is resignation.

Finding a new arena. With the resignation of Abalos from COMELEC, he is technically beyond the reach of Congress. Who will venture to prosecute him in the legal arena, via the courts of the land? It is assumed that with his background as a lawyer, and former judge, the battle may not be as difficult for him in the courts as it may be in a well-publicized and politically-charged impeachment proceedings.

Cutting ties. But will the resignation also imply a parting of ways between Abalos and allies in the Arroyo government? It may be too early to tell at this point. For one, a consideration in the decision to resign may have been the fact that Congress is the turf of Speaker Jose De Venecia, whose son is implicating Abalos in the broadband scandal. Another may be the level of support for Abalos that can be afforded by Malacanang, without significantly exposing itself to political vulnerability due to the scandal.

Thus, the resignation may be viewed as a combination of legal strategy and political maneuver. The first would seek to provide a breathing space for Abalos, the latter would put a breathing space for political leaders implicated in the scandal.

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