Isumbong mo kay Inday Sara
The truth is, so massive is the majority of the administration that, like the bloated majorities of the past, it has to invent fights for it to symbolically win. So the President shrieks at the mere thought of a piece of paper filed in quintuplicate before the House of Representatives justice committee; and the House itself is agog over who, exactly, will become its next Speaker.
On May 29, I summarized the goings-on, which mainly featured the collapse of the bids of Pantaleon Alvarez and Alan Peter Cayetano, with Lord Allan Velasco emerging as the candidate of The Coming Man Squad (the national newbies) and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of The Thoroughbred Caucus (enjoying then-Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s support). The story included Inday Sara’s popping the Pulong Duterte speakership trial balloon by confronting her dear old dad, who backed down.
However, by the closing weeks of May, Pulong was back, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Lord Allan Velasco in an acquaintance party at the Palace, hosted no less than by dear old dad; which led Martin Romualdez, escorted by Davao businessman Sammy Uy, to pose for a competing power pic with Inday Sara in Davao.
On June 25, Velasco had dinner with members of the party list bloc, during which a manifesto of support was excreted, courtesy of Rep. Mikee Romero; followed on June 26 by Romualdez convening a caucus in a hotel, of party list representatives who then said what Romero had signed may refer to Romero but not to them. Indeed, so broad was the Romualdez coalition that even the claimant to the dubious distinction of being the Duterte Youth representative, Ronald Cardema, showed up.
The President joined in the general mayhem by announcing he’d asked the soon-to-be-ex-Speaker, Arroyo, to spare him the trouble of choosing her successor, which both broke the age-old taboo against presidents officially having anything to do with selecting Speakers, and communicated to all and sundry that he wasn’t about to pick anyone when everybody knew GMA was all for Romualdez—in short, accepting the reality that Romualdez has the votes. The Palace tried to rectify the President’s admission of reality by saying that what he meant to say was he was appropriately hands-off when it came to the speakership.
The party list bloc, sensing a change in the winds, announced they actually hadn’t decided on whom to support, while pointedly disowning Mikee Romero’s endorsement on the bloc’s behalf of Velasco’s bid. Romualdez, for his part, meekly placed his fate in the hands of the President and the Speaker.
Romualdez then made his bulky presence obvious at the oath-taking of Inday Sara and her brother in Davao. Last week, Cayetano and Romualdez materialized at the PSG anniversary, where, in a “private dinner” (that included Senator-elect Bong Go), Romualdez apparently reassured the President that with himself as Speaker, the President’s priority bills would indeed be a priority. He (Romualdez) also told the press the President’s refusal to endorse a candidate for the speakership was a “selfless act,” slurp, slurp.
Another revelation: The President supposedly asked Romualdez if he was ready to assume the speakership. For his part, Cayetano’s zombie candidacy limped on, contributing this piece of intrigue: Velasco, he said, had been the one to drop out of a term-sharing arrangement between them.
But it seems during his own face time with the President, a different scheme had been hatched: The President himself said he’d told Cayetano, why not split the term with Velasco? You (Cayetano) get the first half, Velasco the second, he suggested—except Velasco backed out. Cayetano then said on TV that everything had been smoothed out with Inday Sara. Did this mean Cayetano was back in the running?
The problem is that back when the President was quoted as saying he’d proposed a term-sharing fix, he himself also clarified that he’d discussed the speakership with Cayetano before the May elections, and even if he had, he was really noncommittal. Then Davao congressman Polong chimed in, castigating Cayetano for “obsessively” pursuing the speakership, and declaiming that he just might throw his hat into the ring for the speakership. Which, of course, has less to do with Cayetano and more with holding the line for Velasco, since the Romualdez restoration (he’d be the second from his clan to be Speaker) has all the appearances of being a done deal.
The Palace, always the last to know where the President’s mind is at any given moment, cautiously stated the President might not resign, after all, if his son becomes Speaker. You never know. Once again, Inday Sara holds the balance of power.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.