IT IS NOT A SECRET that 10 of the 16 presidents of the Philippine are former senators. If you are perplexed what this subtle fight for the Senate Presidency in 2019 is all about- note, that 4 of those Philippine presidents were once senate presidents.
They are Manuel Quezon, Manuel Roxas, Sergio Osmena and Ferdinand Marcos. Even Roxas and Osmena were also former Speakers of the House of Representatives before becoming senate presidents.
It is also an interesting footnote in our political history, that top notchers in the Senate run-ups also many times get a crack at the presidency or the vice presidency.
Joseph Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos, Gloria Arroyo, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, and Grace Poe are examples of front-runners of the senate race who took their stabs at the presidency or the vice presidency. Some made it, some did not.
It is not a surprise, therefore, that 2019 front-runner reelectionist Cynthia Villar who has a whopping 25 million voters- whether she hungers for the presidency or not- is lined up there among the contenders. The fact that Villar was angling with a sense of entitlement to get choice committee chairmanships for herself and her two Nacionalista allies in Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos- show just how topping a senate race -voted nationwide- can change one’s standing in the chamber.
All the Pro-Duterte coalition members in the Senate will make sure that the agenda of the president is advanced – a ticket for a possible endorsement for the presidency in 2022 or at least will make sure they can claim authorship of successful legislation that will benefit the masses. And make them electable -with or without any endorsement from anyone.
But that is perhaps under a questionable supposition that the president would have the same popularity and endorsement power when his term is ending by 2022. That is why the brilliant move of a senator Grace Poe to remain independent in her senate performance and running her 2019 reelection bid and, then, snatching a very respectable No 2 slot with over 23 million votes – make this losing presidential bet in 2016 – once again a shining jewel for 2022.
Another maverick senator who is every inch an independent operator is senator Ping Lacson and his principled stand on many issues particularly in making the national budget “pork-less”. This will be Lacson’s battering ram tool if he aims to gun for the 2022 presidency.
What about Davao City Mayor Inday Duterte? Inday (even with her sweet speaking voice) is really a snorting dragon as shown in the demolition of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez from the speakership and her role in many LGU political tussles and even the senatorial race.
Personally, however, we believe Sarah does not covet the post- though it can become a necessary option if she wants to protect her outgoing father from political and legal oppression once he steps down from power in 2022.
But more importantly, the smell of the political wind by 2022 (whether pro or anti-Duterte) will also determine Sarah’s chances or even appetite to go for the highest position of the land.
What about the former president and now speaker GMA -will she not be tempted to covet the presidential apple again in 2022?
Our take is GMA will not. After all, she already had a long nine years run as president and suffered a lot of ordeal after her term under the Noynoy Aquino regime.
What about the speakership -is it a preliminary battlefield also for the 2022 presidential run? Unfortunately, recent political history does not make a good representation of the Speaker -unlike those in the Senate.
While the Senate is pictured as “independent”, the Speaker is often very extremely allied with the president, that, rightly or wrongly, he is deemed a “tuta” or a “trapo” who is an expert in the art of “wheeling and dealing”.
Thus, one can see the classic failures of three speakers-one after the other in their quest for the presidency- Speakers Ramon Mitra, Jose de Venecia, and Manny Villar.
But why would one like Alan Peter Cayetano give up his prestigious role as Foreign Affairs Secretary and run in his native Taguig if, through his speakership bid, if he will not run for president in 2022? Even as early as 2010-Alan did now hide his desire to be president, if for nothing else, at least, he was honest about it.
But Sarah Duterte is shooting down Cayetano after the latter reportedly threatened to break up the Duterte Coalition if he is not supported for the Speakership. Also, a goner with Cayetano is Alvarez who Sarah had described as a “very dangerous political animal”.
Even before the May 13 polls, some of us media men and a Manila broadsheet publisher were told from reliable sources that Martin Romualdez of Leyte was a shoo-in for Speaker. He is, after all, a “Marcos” extension- a name held in reverence by Duterte ever since. His remaining rival would be Marinduque congressman Lord Allan Jay Velasco who is also allegedly very close to the president.
While Martin can be clinically adept and with a brilliant mindset to lead the Lower House, will he not be of the same mold of the Marcos-Romualdez clan cut to the cast of vindicating their fallen patriarch Ferdinand through a second coming through their own presidential election -to vindicate Ferdinand’s name?
News leaks point to P500,000 to P 1M per congressman as the bribe money to swing their votes. Another more absurd one is P7 Million per bribe taker- which would require a total of P 1-B for 150 salivating congressmen.
Columnist Alex Magno is of the opinion that congressmen involved in this money trade are out to recoup their election expenses (some spent P 100 Million and above). Other think the “Pork Barrel” though hidden from view- still exists in the Lower House under various disguises.
It would pay, therefore, for representatives to be aligned with a speaker they voted for so they can have a relational lubricant to give them easy access to the unconstitutional Pork Barrel. Isn’t this a crying shame?
So, better watch out the new intrigues and situational horse-trading in our venerable Congressional Bodies-and discern what drives these politicians to do what they vowed they would never do in the campaign period.