Thursday, October 18, 2018
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Commentary

Wannabes and charlatans on the march

Poor Harry Roque. To be told pointblank, after all the contortions he had to make to finesse his principal’s statements, that he should desist from dreaming of making it to the Senate because he wouldn’t win, and even soldiers wouldn’t vote for him: He has every right to be nonplussed. The President had been calling him “Senator” for a number of times before then, Roque whined to reporters. The putdown is a “game-changer,” he added, suggesting a drastic change in his political plan about which, at any rate, he had been annoyingly coy.

One wonders why the President had lately employed such a withering tone toward his spokesman, saying, by his own account, “Eh di sige” when the latter expressed the wish to quit. The apparent turning point for Roque was being left with egg on his face regarding the President’s visit to a hospital for important medical procedures, when he had insisted to reporters that the boss was just taking a day off in Bahay Pangarap.

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Still, Roque seems willing to proceed even minus his principal’s expressed approval. There’s nothing like ambition to drive a survey bottom-dweller to damn the torpedoes and sail full speed ahead.

A raft of wannabes driven by that same heady ambition are once more declaring themselves ready for a seat in the Senate.

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An actor and old hand is itching to get back in the saddle, and Senate President Tito Sotto, a senior official of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, can’t be bothered by issues like overpriced fertilizer that have dogged the party’s new member or his wife’s dollar-smuggling conviction in the United States. Two ex-senators who stand accused of plunder in relation to the massive looting of the pork barrel are unashamed and do not see the charges as an obstacle to returning to their old haunt. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ eldest child is practically champing at the bit.

Even the President’s faithful photobomber, now addressed as “Special Assistant” by all who understand the awesome weight of being closest to power, considers himself primed for the delicate and difficult business of legislation.

And if not in the Senate, the wannabes will make do with the House of Representatives. The woman who made a constant scandal of the generously funded Presidential Communications Operations Office that Malacañang has decided to revert to the Office of the Press Secretary has made known her wish to have a run of the lower chamber, to replace, per scuttlebutt, the disgraced ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz.

As it turns out, Bertiz owns a recruitment agency, Global Asia Alliance Consultant Inc., said to be one of the Philippines’ biggest. The man purports to represent overseas Filipino workers, but in fact his firm recruits them as a business. The main point of a business being to turn a profit, his is a clear case of conflict of interest. It came to light early this year but slipped into the public consciousness only in the wake of Bertiz’s recent caper at the airport, when he bristled at being told to take off his shoes as part of security protocol and virtually rubbed his ID card in the security officer’s face.

Complaints have since been filed by aggrieved OFWs against Bertiz at the House ethics committee. For his outrageous behavior at the airport, the House, quick to protect one of its own, is giving him a mere reprimand. He had earlier complained of chest pains and had managed hospital confinement—an old trick in which seasoned politicians like Speaker Gloria Arroyo, a former president, are experts.

And here we are in the political silly season. It will once again be made painfully obvious that, but for a small number of esteemed lawmakers, Congress, its two current leaders each with a checkered past, continues to be a mockery. In the House, for example, most members represent vested interests, family businesses, landed clans, and political dynasties, and the party-list system has been bastardized as easy entry for billionaire businessmen (for one, 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero), privileged progeny (Arroyo’s elder son Rep. Mikey Arroyo of Ang Galing Pinoy, a party-list group for security guards), and, yes, types like Bertiz.

The House has also served as base of such unsavory characters as a convicted wife murderer (Ruben Ecleo Jr.), a child rapist (Romeo Jalosjos), and a kidnapper (Jovito Palparan Jr.). Even the surviving half of the “conjugal dictatorship” (Imelda Marcos) holds court there.

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We must remake this story of our lives.

chatogarcellano@gmail.com

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Aniceto Bertiz, Christopher Go, Harry Roque, Inquirer Commentary, Rodrigo Duterte, Rosario A. Garcellano
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