"I think he has it all sewn up."
I believe in karma.
When Senator Nene Pimentel became Senate President, I used to call him “the senator with the double-breasted eyebags.”
Now when I look at the mirror, I see double-breasted eyebags on my face as well!
I sincerely apologize to Nene. I hope he still counts me among his friends.
* * *
The case of sexual harassment filed by an ABS-CBN news host against two female superiors has been raffled off to the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court.
This reminds me of the case of Doris Bigornia, daughter of my late good friend, Amante Bigornia.
At that time, it was Maria Ressa—who is now CEO of Rappler—who was in charge of the network’s news and public affairs. Under her were female executives.
Doris came to me for assistance because of alleged harassment and discrimination. She said her case culminated with her assignment to Batangas to cover an impending tsunami caused by an earthquake. This did not sit well with her superiors, and led to her dismissal.
I wrote several columns on her behalf, which also resulted in her dismissal. She was accused of seeking help from a columnist on an internal problem.
I advised Doris to speak with a lawyer and have her dismissal by Ressa investigated. She heeded my advice and her case was handled by the Labor Department’s conciliatory office. This unit looks into cases of unjust dismissal.
After several months, Doris came to me to say that she had won her case and had been reinstated as an ABS-CBN reporter. She was even compensated with back pay.
She and her father thanked me profusely.
* * *
The Commission on Audit found that some P5 million of the grand total of the Marawi rehabilitation fund was diverted to finance a trip to Mecca.
This is considered technical malversation. The fund is supposed to be only for rehabilitation, nothing more.
Alas, President Duterte simply told the Commission on Audit to be silent and do nothing. Why did he practically say it was all right to disregard the law?
The most telling issue raised is that the 1987 Constitution mandates the separation of Church and State. Government should not fund any religious activities.
I can understand why the President’s heart bleeds for the Muslims. But at no time in our history did we fund anybody’s pilgrimage—not the Hajj, not a trip to the Holy Land.
The only role of government is to provide the Moros assistance to get their visas to Saudi Arabia.
* * *
My wife and I are avid churchgoers and a devout Catholics. Somebody once asked whether President Duterte’s rants against the Catholic church bothers me at all.
My usual answer—I leave everything to God.
My wife and I have had our faith all our lives, even before Duterte got elected as president. We will die with this faith, whatever anybody says.
* * *
Since Congress is now on sine die or extended adjournment until the next session, it might be good to point out what exactly the current Speaker, Gloria Arroyo, achieved in her short stint.
She accomplished many things that other Speakers who held the job for much longer hardly did. She got all of President Duterte’s priority legislation enacted.
Gloria has a reputation for being diligent, and during her time as president, she was known to attend several events on any given day. I asked her once how she does it. Her response: “Time management.”
Her work ethic is just admirable. When she was president, she required her Cabinet members to keep their phones on so she could call them any time she needed answers to questions. How indefatigable!
* * *
Among the members of the House I have spoken to, it is a foregone conclusion that the next Speaker will be Rep. Martin Romualdez. Nobody among the other candidates can approximate his credentials. He took up law at University of the Philippines and took graduate studies at Harvard and Cornell. He was president of the Philippine Constitution Association and, likewise, Lakas. He is approachable, a true consensus-builder.
He also has a secret weapon—his wife Yedda, party-list representative of Tingog for Eastern Visayas.
Recall that Joe de Venecia during his time as Speaker also had a secreat weapon in his wife Gina.
I think Martin has it all sewn up.