Battle for Power: Romualdez, GMA and the “House” Tug-of-War
In the ever-evolving landscape of Philippine politics, 2023 emerged as a pivotal year of a fierce power struggle within the House of Representatives. The tension between Speaker Martin Romualdez and Former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo provides a fascinating study of political maneuvering, allegiances, and the high stakes in the game of governance.
At the heart of this drama was the discovery of a “meticulous plan” by Arroyo to oust Romualdez from his position as Speaker while he was in the US around May this year. But what seems like a mere power play between two political titans inside Congress, it has, in fact, deeper geopolitical considerations.
President Marcos’s strategic pivot towards the United States, particularly concerning the West Philippine Sea issue, has reshaped our country’s political alliances. Arroyo, with her known pro-China stance, viewed this as an opportunity to assert influence and possibly gain control over the Lower House. By claiming support of a significant number of congressmen and hinting at the possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Marcos, the stage was then set for a political showdown.
However, politics is never one-dimensional. Romualdez’s allies, sensing the impending storm, made a preemptive strike by demoting Arroyo. This move, symbolic and strategic, was a clear message to Arroyo and her allies that any disruption in House activities would not be tolerated. Subsequent events, including VP Sara’s resignation from the Lakas-CMD party and her vocal criticism of the Speaker, signaled that political battle lines were firmly drawn.
Second phase of this saga revolved around a controversial budget request. The Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) sought a substantial amount in confidential and intelligence funds. This request, which overshadowed even the allocation for the AFP and intelligence community, raised eyebrows and invited scrutiny. The rapid expenditure of these funds and the adverse observation from the COA further intensified the debate. In a move seen as both damage control and a political statement, Congress leaders decided to reallocate these funds to boost national defense capabilities.
The ensuing social media onslaught against both Romualdez and President Marcos highlights the modern battleground of politics today. We are seeing the involvement of prominent heavyweights in these various digital offensives, trying to court favorable “public perception” in and influence today’s political climate. Online platforms again became arenas where narratives are shaped, opinions swayed, and allegiances tested.
But in analyzing these events, a few key observations emerge. The concerted effort to unseat President Marcos seems to be driven by his unexpected switch with the U.S. on the South China Sea issue. On the other side, pro-China advocates, including Former President Duterte, GMA, and VP Sara, also appears to be orchestrating a multi-pronged strategy: weaken Romualdez, portray Marcos as an ineffective leader, and, with Arroyo potentially in the Speaker’s chair, escalate their offensive against the President.
In conclusion, this tussle between Romualdez, Arroyo and their allies, offers a window into the intricate dynamics of Philippine politics even if the next elections are still 5 years away. It is a testament to the fact that in the realms of governance, battles are fought not just inside hallowed halls of institutions but also in the court of public opinion. As the narratives unfold, one thing is certain: the stakes are too high, but whatever outcome will shape our nation’s future trajectory.
Entire SPD sacked on missing P27M on Paranaque Parksuites condo raid
Talk of the town inside the PNP was last week’s quiet replacement of SPD Director Brig. Gen Roderick Mariano by Brig. Gen. Mark Pespes, former director of the PNP headquarters Support Service, whose claim to fame was killing one of the hostage takers of former Sen. Leila De Lima. Gen. Mariano was then transferred to the office of Director-General Benjamin Acorda jr.
On September 16, SPD operatives raided Solemare Parksuites Condominium and their initial police report says they arrested 11 Chinese and one Filipino, rescued seven other Chinese nationals, and confiscated guns and cash amounting to P4.6M. However, there were complaints received that that more cash were missing.
After several days, SPD chief Gen. Mariano reported lapses committed by his men and ordered the relief of forty-three (43) cops involved in the raid. He also scolded his men for not declaring in their initial report the missing P27M cash that was also taken inside a vault.
SILG Benhur Abalos, invoking Napolcom’s mandate under Sec. 6., Article XVI of the Constitution to administer and control the PNP, then ordered Director -General Chief Benjamin Acorda Jr. and NCRPO Chief Brig. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez to investigate. “Given the serious nature of these allegations, it is imperative that your office look into this matter urgently. I direct the PNP to promptly ascertain the veracity of these claims, submit the corresponding report to this office and take immediate action if warranted”.
In compliance, Police Col. Noel Fermin, NCRPO Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (RIDMD) submitted his seven-page recommendations after a thorough probe. “All cops involved in the said raid should be charged of grave neglect of duty, serious irregularity in the performance of duty and conduct unbecoming of a police officers”. Also, cases will be filed against an additional twenty-five (25) SPD cops from Women’s Desk, SWAT, TMRU, and Tambo Sub-station2 of Paranaque Police.
Fermin chided the entire district leadership in his report. “Further, recommend that other officers from the Southern Police District who failed to supervise the conduct of the said operation would be held accountable under the doctrine of command responsibility, and to prevent tampering of evidence and undue influence upon the conduct of further investigation into the issue”, he said. Clearly this report is the very reason why former SPD Chief Brig Gen Roderick Mariano, and his men were immediately relieved of their duties.
Overall, this exercise is extremely beneficial for the entire PNP organization. Not just good optics but clearly, it shows that majority of our police officers are very serious cleaning their ranks. Police probers like Col. Noel Fermin should be commended for being unafraid to tell the truth even if this means dismissal of higher ups in the police hierarchy. May napakalaking pagasa pa talaga ang PNP! (There still enormous hope for our PNP!)