THE biggest political development last week was the Senate revamp. The leading figure behind it was Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Filipino boxing icon and first-time member.
Such an important move was left to Pacquiao for him to initiate and push. Although he is probably not the author or leader of the move to unseat Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon and three other Liberal Party (LP) senators, the planning the night before the revamp was held at his Makati City residence.
The Senate proceedings last Monday went smoothly for Pacquiao and his motions. He started with Drilon then moved to declare vacant one by one the committee chairmanship positions held by Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino.
Pacquiao had every right to stand up, go the podium and move to declare as vacant those positions held by members belonging to the LP, aligned with former president Benigno Aquino III. He is a Senate member, he received a huge number of votes in the May elections last year that he finished ahead of Senators Pangilinan, Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, and Leila de Lima. He ranked number 7 out of 12 elected senators, receiving 16 million votes or 35.6 percent. Pacquiao ran under the party United Nationalist Alliance of former vice president Jejomar Binay, but he is now affiliated with the supermajority coalition of President Rodrigo Duterte.
But why did the revamp move fall on Pacquiao and not on the shoulders of the more vocal and experienced members of the supermajority like Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Richard Gordon or Tito Sotto? Instead it was the national hero, boxing champ and neophyte who took the stage to initiate this major political change. Pacquiao continues to have the sympathy and support of many. His fans look forward to his every fight in the boxing ring and also in the Senate halls.
The revamp has taken effect. Nothing will change that as the LP senators have accepted their removal from the committee leadership without question or protest, placing them in the minority. They knew they were removed to silence the opposition as the Senate deliberates on measures such as the restoration of the death penalty, investigation of corruption in the Bureau of Immigration, and the hearing on retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas’s testimony on the Davao Death Squad.
Pacquiao’s leading role in the revamp says one thing. That there is agreement within the supermajority to make him a leader, an initiator, a fighter for the mass.
Such esteem and influence bestowed on Pacquiao puts him in a position to sway decisions and move opposition to submission. It is possible the supermajority will groom him for a higher office, perhaps the presidency, if he keeps his magic until the next election campaign.
Pacquiao should know that the influence he wields now is best used not for self-preservation as he does in the ring but for worthy causes for the benefit of the real supermajority, those who reside outside the Senate halls.