MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Political play

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Take the case of senatorial candidates Cynthia Villar and Jamby Madrigal. They now share the same platform in the Liberal Party’s provincial sorties. It was not too long ago that Jamby Madrigal was going hammer and tongs after Senator Manny Villar, Cynthia’s husband, for allegedly anomalous deals involving a real estate development project. Together with Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Jamby questioned the government funding Villar got  to divert a main road to his overpriced subdivision project. Villar ends his term in the Senate in May  and wants wife Cynthia to keep the family crest in the august chamber. And of course protect the Villars’ real estate empire. Whatever happened to the Senate investigation of the highly irregular deal? Nothing came out of the inquiry which gives more reason why the Senate has fallen into such disrepute. The recent and continuing controversy over allocation of funds for senators’ office maintenance and operation expenses appears borne out of unequal share more than anything else. If politics make strange bedfellows, it can also tear families apart. A case in point is the bitter and acrimonious family feud of the Villafuertes in Camarines Sur. Governor Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte is pitting his son, Miguel, against his grandfather, the incumbent Rep. Luis Villafuerte as governor of the province, The senior Villafuerte has already been Camarines Sur governor for 15 years but wants to reclaim the governor’s seat because his term as congressman in the province’s 3rd district ends in May this year. Term limits preclude him from seeking reelection. The younger Migz Villafuerte, 24, without any political experience, could pull a political upset. But he has already upset his grandfather emotionally. “What grandson would challenge his own grandfather? That is so against Filipino culture,” the 77-year old Villafuerte said. But he does not have to skip a generation to see his own son fight him on the issue of splitting CamSur. Father and son have exchanged harsh words as a result of the elder Villafuerte’s initiative to split Camarines Sur into another province to be called Nueva Camarines. Meanwhile, there is another interesting political battle brewing in the province between former Trade Undersecretary Nelly  Favis Villafuerte and Leni Robredo, widow of Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo who perished in a plane crash last year. Nelly is a provincial board member and married to Rep. Villafuerte.  She wants to succeed her husband as representative of CamSur’s 3rd District. Leni Robredo, a newcomer in politics, was a shoo-in for regional trial court judge. President Aquino would have appointed Leni, a lawyer, after her husband’s death. But she opted to seek an elective position which now pits her against the Villafuerte dynasty’s political machinery. Hopefully, Camarines Sur voters can look at someone else other than another Villafuerte. With too many Villafuertes, why not just rename Camarines Sur into Villafuerte province instead of dividing it? Is the Villafuerte feud just a political ploy to keep CamSur as a family heirloom? In the end, they will patch up their political differences, Shades of Machiavelli. Snafu in Sabah The airport snafu in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah which prevented the repatriation of Manuel Amalilio, the brains behind the Aman Futures investment scam, has a far more reaching repercussion on Philippine-Malaysia  relations. It is not just “a temporary setback” as seen by Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda. The head of the National Bureau of Investigation team that went to fetch the fugitive said Amalilio is reportedly related to a ranking Sabah official. With his P12 billion loot from 15,000 Filipino investors he duped , Amalilio seems  to have bought himself a safe haven. Although it was the Malaysian police acting on Manila’s request, who arrested Amalilio, Sabah authorities appeared to have acted independently of Kuala Lumpur. Sabah is a state under the Federation of Malaysia. Relation between the central government in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu has not always been smooth. Malaysia sees Sabah a threat to its political dominance. With the influx of illegal immigrants, many coming from Mindanao and Indonesia, the sheer number of Sabah’s population  could turn the tide in future elections since many of these newcomers are being given regular status. The NBI team that went to fetch the fugitive could have left with Amalilio if the Cebu Pacific plane had not been delayed. The flight delay gave the local police enough time to stop the NBI team from boarding Amalilio. The Filipinos tried to explain they already had the fugitive in custody by virtue of Malaysia’s authority and that Amalilio was carrying a Philippine passport. All this went for naught as Amalilio, it turned out, is well connected in Sabah.
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