MS 30th Anniversary XXX

The Senate is the next battleground

I submitted my column before the polls closed yesterday. Thus, I cannot be certain about who won and who did not. There is only one city in Metro Manila where I am sure—Makati, with re-electionist Mayor Jun-Jun Binay. But let me guess. Perhaps a 7-5 or a 6-6? *** Whatever the outcome, the next battleground will be the Senate. There will be renewed attempts to oust Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. If Team PNoy dominates the Senate, I am sure they will try to make Senator Franklin Drilon Senate President. The question is whether they would succeed. Drilon has a moist eye on the presidency – that is no secret.  This even though he knows that the President has Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II in mind to pit against Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016. Once elected, a senator thinks of himself or herself as a separate republic. Enrile still has Senate President Protempore Jinggoy Estrada and Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto, and will certainly have in the bloc JV Ejercito Estrada, and possibly re-electionist Gringo Honasan. There’s also the Nacionalista Party bloc that the Liberals have to contend with, like re-electionist Alan Peter Cayetano (who also has a moist eye on the presidency), Senator Bongbong Marcos, who is also presidential timber, Pia Cayetano and Cynthia Villar.  They will provide the swing vote. Thus, President Aquino, who already has the House of Representatives under his thumb, will try his best to control the Senate. I doubt if he can, though, not even with re-electionist Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero.  These two, even though they belong to Team PNoy, will not be dictated upon. I have spoken with Senate President Enrile on his possible ouster.  He told me he is prepared for it.  Once he becomes Minority Leader, he will spend his last three years in the Senate as a constructive oppositionist. Enrile certainly knows all the tricks in the book.  He has been a legislator for many years. *** The 2013 midterm elections has become some kind of an acid test for people and institutions.  President Aquino’s trust and popularity ratings, for instance, faced a big challenge with his unprecedented presence in about half of all the sorties of Team PNoy. Mr. Aquino vigorously campaigned for a 12-0 sweep for his team.  This will never come to pass. This election was in effect a proxy fight between the President and Vice President. Who has better endorsement power? Still, it was the Commission on Elections which had the biggest stake of all, given the use of the precinct count optical scan machines. The poll agency’s credibility was on the line! *** The case of businessman Bobby Ongpin facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan has taken a new twist. After Ongpin and his lawyer demolished all the charges thrown at the businessman in a public hearing at Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Ombudsman now comes with a petition for the inhibition of two of the three justices handling the case. Ongpin and his lawyers have shown that the charge of behest loan was baseless.  The P660-million loan he obtained from the Development Bank of the Philippines loans he got from the DBP were fully paid, with interest, even before maturity. According to jurisprudence, a loan can only be behest if it is not fully paid and has fact gone in default. As for the charge of the loan being under-collateralized, Ongpin and his lawyers proved that the Philweb shares used were more than sufficient.  Philweb is a listed corporation. Obviously, the prosecutors did not do their homework. The charge of conspiracy was likewise demolished, since it was shown that some of the accused could not have influenced the grant of the DBP loans. More importantly, there was no graft since the DBP and ergo, the government,  were not disadvantaged.  The bank earned P1.4 billion from the Ongpin deal. Obviously realizing that the Ombudsman’s case against Ongpin was collapsing, the prosecutors now want two justices to inhibit because a lawyer of Ongpin is a fraternity brother of one of the justices, and that a son of one of Ongpin’s lawyers had years ago represented a company affiliated with Ongpin. My gulay, why now, and why disqualify justices with fraternity affiliations? My gulay, that would disqualify thousands of lawyers who one way or another have fraternity affiliation with judges and justices. It’s even worse when a justice has to inhibit himself just because a son represented a company many years ago. That’s really a stretch of the imagination. The administration has succeeded in one thing—destroying Ongpin’s reputation. How vindictive, and just because Ongpin admitted to being a friend of the former First Gentleman! *** My wife and I mark our 58th wedding anniversary today.  I thank  God Almighty for everything—good health (except minor aches and pains that go with old age), a close-knit family with four children, all happy and comfortable living on their own. Two years from now, with God’s blessings, we pray and hope to mark our diamond wedding anniversary (60 years). The problem is that those we knew in our generation have either passed away or are already sick.  Some have dementia. So, we just may have to mark our special day with our children and their families. I have been asked how my wife and I have lasted 58 years. Many of our friends and relatives have separated. Simple—I always have the last say in the house.  When I say “Yes, dear!” all arguments are ended. This is my advice to the younger generation.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by The Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with The Standard editorial standards, The Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.