SECTIONS
Thursday, June 27, 2019
CEBU

Malilong: Mad scramble in the House

The Other Side

ALL the candidates that I voted for senator last week lost. I am not surprised. Neither are my candidates, I think, except probably Bam Aquino who was within striking distance of the top 12 as shown in the pre-election surveys. They knew that they faced long odds because of their lack of resources and the administration slate’s chief endorser President Rodrigo Duterte’s immense popularity.

That is why none of them have been heard complaining that they have been cheated, unlike another candidate, whom I find notoriously obnoxious, who has been crying since the day after the election that his votes were stolen. Even in their loss, the opposition ticket gained a large measure of satisfaction in the fact that millions still voted for them despite their ragtag campaign that was run mostly by volunteers.

These people spent their own resources for the campaign without any expectation of recognition or reward. And while they took pride in their being volunteers, they did not proclaim it publicly, preferring to work quietly rather than trying to let everyone know the work that they were doing.

To them, I doff my hat. They may have not succeeded in sending their (and my) candidates to the Senate, but they were able to demonstrate that even in the most difficult of times, there are still people who can be trusted to stand up for what they believe is right and pursue it vigorously but peacefully.

If anyone ever had any doubt as to whether democracy was still alive in this country, that election should erase it. And I would like to thank my candidates for helping prove that by joining a battle they knew they could lose and for showing that not everyone can be coopted or is a balimbing.

***

The leadership of both chambers of the incoming Congress will not be officially decided until they convene on or after noon of June 30. But the jockeying has already begun and even if they deny it, Malacañang will have a say on who gets the plum posts. And naturally so since the Ppeaker of the House and the Senate President are powerful officials and it will serve any administration well if both leaders are loyal to the President.

The Senate presidency is safely in the hands of Sen. Tito Sotto, at least as of now since none of his colleagues have indicated that they wanted him ousted. Even the committee chairmanships appear to have already been apportioned to the satisfaction of each senator.

But while the selection process will be smooth in the Senate, it will not likely be so in the House where at least four members are aspiring to succeed Speaker Gloria Arroyo, who will no longer be back in the House since she has served out her maximum three terms as Pampanga representative.

Two of them are very close to Duterte. Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano was the President’s running mate in 2016 and his second Foreign Affairs secretary. Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez is from Davao and was the House speaker until Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte engineered a coup against him.

The younger Duterte has rejected Alvarez’s offer of peace, claiming that the latter has bragged in a video that he has succeeded in embarrassing her. No such bad blood has been known to exist between Sara and Cayetano but all that may change after Cayetano was heard saying that should Sara support another candidate for Speaker, it would break up their group.

If indeed Cayetano made that remark, he may have already killed his chances of becoming the Speaker. Sara is not known to take kindly to threats, even the veiled ones. But does this open the door for Alvarez?


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