Of BS Aquino, SB and political reforms

Efren Danao

Efren Danao

MALACAñang’s image makers, true to their sworn duty (bless their heart), continue to refer to our very popular president as Benigno S. Aquino 3rd or III.  Definitely, the image makers will commit a disservice to the grateful nation if they remove the “S” from his name. The name should be reflective of our beloved leader, and nothing could describe him better than to have the endearing initials “BS” placed before his family name. I remember the Marcos die-hards who kept on shouting “Marcos pa rin!” after EDSA 1.

Well, for us equally die-hard, including Malacañang’s drumbeaters, it is “BS Aquino Forever!”

President BS Aquino’s anointed one, Rep. Sonny “Serbisyong Bayan” Belmonte of Quezon City, regained his post as Speaker of the House without any sweat. I congratulate SB for getting almost 88 percent of the votes at the inaugural session of the chamber last Monday. With SB at the helm of the House, BS is certain to get what he wants at the chamber. SB was among the first to jump from the sinking ship of Lakas and join the Liberal Party. SB as Speaker will work wonders for the reform program of BS Aquino, especially on the judicious use of the pork barrel.

There’s one thing I’m sure of though. With the way congressmen voted at the House last Monday, any move to reform and strengthen the political party system in the 16th Congress will be declared dead on arrival. Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Angara Castillo of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) is Exhibit A of this dire prediction.  I had expected much more from her, the sister of ex-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, but I was utterly disappointed when she voted for Rep. Ronny Zamora of San Juan City instead of for SB.

Note that LDP was with the LP-led coalition in the just concluded midterm election. In fact, her nephew, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, was in the LP ticket. Now, here comes Angara-Castillo going against the nominee of LDP’s coalition partner. She can’t say that the LDP (how many elected members does it have?) had not made any party stand on whom to vote for for Speaker, not after the LDP led by the retired senator had declared that its coalition with the Liberal Party would continue after the election.

Former Sen. Edgardo J. Angara was the lead proponent of strengthening and reforming the political party system. His sister, by her vote, had shown why that move had not been making any headway. Incidentally, Angara Castillo became a member of the minority led by Ronny Zamora by not voting for SB. By getting three more votes than Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte who also ran for Speaker, Ronny became the minority leader.

Was the desire to ensure Ronny’s election as minority leader the main reason why she voted for him?

A political party that doesn’t have a stand on a basic issue like the election of a leader of a chamber is, amorphous, porous.  The United Nationalist Alliance in the Senate voted as one in joining the minority. Not so with UNA members at the House. Then, what about Lakas congressmen who didn’t vote for Romualdez, the party president?

If it’s any consolation to congressmen, they’re not alone. At the Senate, two members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) belong to different blocs. Sen. Loren Legarda is with the majority while Sen. Vicente “Tito Sen” Sotto 3rd is with the minority. I wonder how this will affect the NPC’s membership in the Commission on Appointments, where the 12 seats for the Senate panel are pro-rated among political parties based on their numerical strength.

While we are at the Senate, I note that Senate President Franklin M. Drilon (FMD) had already identified the chairmen of 23 of 39 standing committees. Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd retained his chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon. This will ensure that BS Aquino’s claims of ridding graft under his administration will continue to ring true. Expect more charges against appointees and friends of the previous administration to be zealously pursued by Guingona. Hurray for that!

The election of Sen. Lito Lapid as chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism is also reflective of the administration’s desire for reforms. With his son, former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid, as chairman of the Philippine Tourism Authority, Lapid’s chairmanship of the Committee on Tourism will ensure that tourism’s thrusts will be implemented. But what if he would use his committee to stonewall any charges against his son? Oh, banish that thought. How can such be possible in this blessed country under the very popular BS Aquino?



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