• EDITORIAL

    Boxing champ’s coup at the Senate

    15

    ON a certain level, one would be tempted to say “serves them right” to the four Liberal Party senators at the Senate who had the rug pulled from under their feet on Monday. Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros were, quite without warning, stripped of their leadership positions and committee chairmanships in the chamber.

    The fatal blow was delivered by boxing champ-cum-Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is turning out to be one of Malacanang’s most obliging allies in the Senate.

    At the plenary session that day, Pacquiao stood up to declare vacant the post of Senate President Pro Tempore, occupied by Drilon, and the chairmanships of the committees on agriculture, education and health, held by Pangilinan, Aquino and Hontiveros, respectively. Nobody bothered to question Pacquiao on his motion, and very quickly, 17 of the 23 senators present voted for the change.

    One would think that the Senate shake-up was to rationalize and clarify the party alignments in the chamber. Or so, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd would have us believe. Explaining the sudden “reorganization” to reporters late Monday, Pimentel said there had been a “blurring” of the lines between the majority and the minority in the chamber.

    “There have been instances where the majority, instead of closing ranks, ended up divided. The majority of senators decided that to best achieve the Senate’s legislative agenda, clear lines have to be drawn,” he said.

    And yet, Drilon yielded his position not to a majority senator but to another Liberal Party member, Senator Ralph Recto, who temporarily gave up his Minority Leader position to take up the Senate President Pro Tempore post. (Recto incidentally voted against himself in the reorganization last Monday that elected him to the No. 2 post.)

    Confused? You may well be, for in the Senate it is said there are really no political parties as each senator is a party of one – they work only for their own interest. As such, there is no administration or opposition in the chamber, only shifting alignments of majority and minority blocs.

    Drilon, Pangilinan and Aquino are members of the former ruling LP, while Hontiveros is a leader of the Akbayan party-list group, a close ally of the LP, under whose mantle she won election to the Senate in 2016.

    During the election (actually, horse trading) for the Senate leadership last year, Drilon, Pangilinan, Aquino and Hontiveros, instead of taking themselves honorably into opposition, elected to align themselves with the majority that chose Pimentel, the head of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, for the position of Senate President. Recto chose to go with the minority.

    The prize, of course, was the coveted committee chairmanships, where much of the work and power in the chamber reside. The four senators have, for the better part of a year, been in the awkward position of enjoying the perks of key Senate posts as members of the majority bloc while trying to remain circumspect as the Duterte administration increasingly took on one controversial issue after another, beginning with the bloody illegal drugs war.

    One may well ask how the four senators could still remain with the majority after the jailing of their LP colleague, Senator Leila de Lima, on questionable drug charges.

    Well, the decision was taken out of their hands as they have been ejected.

    Comeuppance or just desserts that may well be, but what happened to the four senators still disturbs, not least because of what is coming up for debate in the Senate. The suspicion lingers that the Senate leadership may be clearing the decks for a less contentious vote on the death penalty bill. The bill is scheduled for voting on second reading today. While the LP has issued a party stand opposing the measure, its leadership said it would allow individual members to decide how they would vote.

    And proposals to amend the Constitution, a priority legislation of the Duterte administration, are pending before the committee on constitutional amendments. Drilon remains chairman of the latter committee but Senator Cynthia Villar, a majority member who took over the agriculture committee from Pangilinan, hinted yesterday that would not be for much longer.

    As self-regarding as some of the senators can be, we don’t worry too much when bills as controversial as the death penalty measure, for instance, pass through the unwieldy and rambunctious House, because they will at least get a thorough airing in the notionally more independent Senate.

    Pimentel has given assurances that the Senate would remain independent and true to its role as “the last bastion of democracy” in the country.

    As for the four LP senators who have just moved into the minority, let’s hope they will be free to examine, vote and criticize, now that they are no longer comfortably “shackled” to the majority.

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    15 Comments

    1. Good riddance. The senate should also fast track ethics cade against de5 as well ad expulsion if trilliones from the chamber for doing nothing except raising issues against the afministration instead of filing bills gor which the public is paying him for

    2. I did not vote for you pacman but you’re simply giving the sanamagans a lesson or two.

    3. Manny Pacquiao, who is turning out to be one of Malacanang’s most obliging allies in the Senate.
      ————————————————-

      Pacquiao is a stooge doing what he is instructed to do.

    4. The senators were voted by the masses to do job that will bring back the economic stability, prosperity of our country thru the laws that they were be able to passed. But sad to say some of them wasted their time in playing politics, dis-unity and hatred, so I think revamp is needed. How could they go on their respective jobs if they’re loyalty and conscience is on their political alliance and not on serving the public interest. Senators who have this kind of mentality must resign, they’re not fitted to sit there, millions of pesos were wasted because of they’re personal interest.

    5. I am not an anti-Pacquiao but if people believe that this ousting of the LP members away from key position was his idea, then people should think again. Manny has been used time and time again by politicians. They whisper things to him to take the cudgels and they will just second the motion (I notice this in senate hearings when senators move and seat beside Manny to whisper things to him, then later on KAPOW). They don’t want to be portrayed as the ones instigating the idea first to save their neck for future political alliances. Manny is still naive and a novice in politics. The only time I believe it was his own brain dictating and not the dictates of another senator was when he was interrogation the witnesses and he was in the middle of his interrogation so he was relying on his own wits.

    6. “One may well ask how the four senators could still remain with the majority after the jailing of their LP colleague, Senator Leila de Lima, on questionable drug charges.”

      Questionable drug charges? Someone in this paper’s editorial board is a defense lawyer for De Lima.

      “As for the four LP senators who have just moved into the minority, let’s hope they will be free to examine, vote and criticize, now that they are no longer comfortably “shackled” to the majority.”

      These 4 pest-of-a-senator have always been free to criticize the administration. In fact, they are continually opposing everything Duterte does just for the sake of opposing.

    7. Cheers for the Pambansang Kamao Pacquiao! Thank you for knocking out those barnacles from the ship of the Filipinos. They are a hindrance to the smooth sailing of the pro people programs of the senate and the government. I hope the Ethics Committee will knock them out of the senate permanently.

    8. Luzy Canilao on

      Ir was just a formality and removal of the perks from the two-timing LP senators. As to the issue of having now the freedom to act the role of the true opposition, e palagi naman talaga sila nag oopose nuon at forever, kaya nga sila inalis sa pwesto. Dapat lang.,, serves them right.

    9. Senator Pacquiao has been subtly maligned and insulted in public by the “more educated” senators. Nevertheless he remained humble.

      Now we know who is the wiser, and who can really deliver a knock out punch in the ring and in the chambers of the Senate.

      THE LORD is on the side of the humble. And HE is ALMIGHTY, ALL-WISE and the SHIELD of those who trust HIM.

      Glory to GOD in the highest, and kudos to His Honor, Senator Pacquiao.

      Indeed you deserve to be called “Your Honor”!

      We are praying for you!!!

    10. Severo L. Brillantes on

      Pacquio himself was able to rise from a knock-out and become a better boxer. I hope these LP Senators will themselves be able to rise as better principled oppositionists that they have always been unhampered by any consideration of going with the subservient majority

    11. Severo L. Brillantes on

      Pacquiao himself was able to rise from a knock-out and become a better boxer. I hope that these LP Senators will be able to rise from this knock-out and become what they truly are, principled oppositionists to the questionable features of Duterte’s legislative agenda.

    12. aladin g. villacorte on

      Manny Pacquiao is living up to his monicker as the Pambansang Kamao, delivering knock-out punches right and left at the Senate hall. I could almost read the headlines five years from now: Pacquiao for President!