Sat. May 21st, 2022
‘The Pambansang Kamao’s New Trainer and Coach Koko’ by Steven Pabalinas

By Serafin Ledesma Jr

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. It simply means that one should not rush to judgment or presume to know what is ahead on an ongoing event. This saying aptly applies to the many changes obtaining in plans and organizations that pertain to the regular elections in 2022.

The announcement of Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte that she is no longer running for a national post following the declaration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte that he has accepted the nomination of the ruling party for him to run for vice president is just one of the many announcements that are still subject to change.

The present political atmosphere is pregnant with imponderables.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao who not too long ago appeared to be stoically supportive of fellow Senator Koko Pimentel announced shortly after losing a boxing match that he will be with VP and Liberal Party presidential timber Leni Robredo.

Then we see him in talks with Partido Reporma President Bebot Alvarez.

Knowing that Pacquiao is wanting nothing less than the presidential post we saw a radical twist. Hardly had the event saw print Pacquiao announced he is running for president. Did I see a certain Munsayac, Koko’s boy Friday, smiling ear-to-ear?

Munsayac who?

Ex-Speaker Bebot Alvarez, who in 2019 posed himself as the poor man’s candidate against his erstwhile bosom friend Tony Floirendo and the Del Rosarios and won, was seen last week on the tarmac of Ormoc City airport.  He came on a private jet.

Lucy Torres who is No. 1 in the list of the eight senatorial slates of Cusi’s PDP personally welcomed Alvarez. Was it just a matter of courtesy?

Human rights lawyer Che Diokno, who everybody thought has learned a lesson from an ignoble defeat surfaced last week to announce that he is running solo for the senate. 

In Davao del Norte, the bastion of Alvarez Reporma party may yet be the next graveyard of the moribund political party that he resurrected. He has lost so many allies as quickly as he won them over in the 2019 elections. 

With Davao City Mayor Inday Sara bowing out of the Presidential race, the political stock of Bongbong Marcos suddenly become a viable option.

But President Duterte who is the chief political tutor of Sara and had molded her to be a strong-willed leader, intelligent and with the true grit of a Duterte brand might suddenly wake up in the middle of his sleep and realize that his daughter is indeed ready to take up the reins of the government.

I can imagine him picking up the phone, tells Spox Harry Roque that it’s time for him to go home to Davao City where his mosquito net still hanging in his bed awaits. We Dabawenyos would love to see Inday taking up the biggest challenge of the presidency and for President Duterte to come back as mayor of Davao City.

So we see how change can come about. Some politicians have developed a hide as thick as the rhino and wouldn’t mind sleeping with the enemies. Some are salivating for the highest post in the totem pole when they have nothing but brawn.

Everything is still volatile in the Philippines 2022 elections. While the filing of the certificates of candidacy is drawing near, there is still another time allowed to make substitutions too. Out today in tomorrow. in the case of Inday Sara, my last count was that at least five political parties have come to an agreement to support her candidacy.  I have not seen any changes in that arena so far.

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”, that’s how the English colloquial would describe our present political and electoral situation. We guys from the boondocks have our own way of saying it: “you cannot be sure of the man under the mango tree”.

Such are the imponderables in Philippine politics.

Three Stooges in the Senate?

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) has become a veritable stage of political zarzuela where the grand inquisitors made the nation believe they have discovered a mountain of corruption in government overpriced purchases of personal protective equipment.

Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Dick Gordon, Minority Floor Leader Frank Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, and Reporma Party-declared Presidential candidate Ping Lacson were gloating on what they claimed were overpriced PPEs bought by the government at ₱1,700 each set. Never mind Manny Pacquiao empty rhetoric but just the same he qualifies for a comic role in this zarzuela. Take note all five are re-electionists come 2022 regular elections.

As it turned out, the Duterte government bought the same items at almost half the price that the past administration purchased at ₱3,500 per set. Obviously, Malacanang did its own investigation to prove whether the damning allegation of the Blue Ribbon Committee was true.

However, in the process, they unearthed documents showing that on June 23, 2016, the Aquino government procured the same PPEs at a price twice expensive as what was purchased by the Duterte administration.  Gordon, Drilon Lacson, Pacquiao, and Hontiveroz who played heroes and heroine roles were stunned.

Drilon suddenly woke up from his slumber and snarled  “you’re diverting the issue” at Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who revealed what the Palace discovered.  From the lower chamber came a pipsqueak voice of former Health Secretary, now Iloilo congresswoman Janette Garin, who explained that indeed they bought the PPEs because of the threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

So there.

The Blue Ribbon Committee hearing became a tragic comedy but Gordon, Drilon, and Lacson had turned themselves from heroes to Three Stooges. Even the Commission on Audit expressed surprise why the (Duterte)government go through a maze of procedures when under the emergency power granted under Bayanihan 1 Act the government can proceed to buy what are necessary given the pandemic. (Blame that to the incompetence of Sec Francisco Duque.)

But the Three Stooges refused to give up. The issued a Warrant of Arrest to Michael Yang, the owner of Pharmally Pharmaceuticals,  for not appearing on the BRC hearing. The lawyer of Yang moreover, in a press statement, said that the summon was never served to add that his client will show up next meeting.

Drilon, Gordon, and Lacson are up to another dirty trick. They wanted to associate Yang with President Duterte by showing a picture where the two were together.

But wasn’t it that Duterte was quoted before that Yang, who is a Filipino-Chinese businessman is from Davao City and was his former economic adviser early on when they were inviting Chinese investors to the Philippines? I don’t know whether that had become a crime otherwise Gordon who was seen shaking hands with a drug lord becomes a suspect too. 

If Gordon is up to his job and fair, he should summon former Health Sec. Janette Garin to the Senate investigation.

Since Yang is attending the next Senate hearing, assuming there will be any after all the booboos, maybe he should be asked how he was able to supply the government with PPEs at half the price than before when there was no pandemic.

Drilon is smarting. He now asks another question whether Yang paid taxes on all those government transactions he had.

And so goes the narrative. I do not believe that Drilon, Gordon, and Lacson were co-authors and scriptwriters of “Ang Probinsyano”. 

It’s just brazen and shameless politicking.

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