"The audience of one may even pull a dark rabbit from out of his hat."


‘Tis a bit funny, how these so-called “parties,” “coalitions” and “blocs” in the House of Representatives claim this and that about the fight for the supreme leadership of the chamber.

To paraphrase Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, ‘tis all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Because in the end, as we keep repeating in this column to the point of nausea, all the posturing and all the media spins impress no one, least of all the only audience who matters: The audience of one.

The party-list coalition, a strong bloc of 54 nominal members want to position themselves as one strong and solid “swing vote,” while the so-called administration party, the more numerous 80 strong congressmen, insist that being the “President’s party,” the leader of the HoR must perforce come from their ranks.

And yet, the PDP-Laban, after so many Pacman-hosted dinners and attempts at consensus- reaching, could not even among themselves choose who should bear their colors in the speakership fight. In the end, they toss it to the audience of one, hoping that as their proclaimed party chairman, he would choose one among their ranks.

There have been attempts as well to project “solidarity” among regional blocs; for instance, the Visayan bloc, but nothing came out of all the noise.  Cebuanos following Ilonggo bloc leaders?  Perish the thought.  

Wisely, no Northern Alliance bloc came out of the woodwork to proclaim their “timek ti umili”.  They knew no bloc posturing could alter the fact that the speakership is decided by the six-year tenant of Malacañang, especially one elected by huge numbers three years ago and thence given a standing ovation in the recent mid-terms.

Even the recent dinner at Malacañang, after the brief solo engagement of the Pacman with the Digong, only fortified the supremacy of the voice of one.  The dinner was  attended by many congressmen, most of them neophytes, who went there not so much to get the president to choose on the spot, as to have a chance for a selfie to show their constituents the morning after.

In any case, the audience of one has kept everyone in tenterhooks only until June 28, after which he will, he promised, announce his choice.

See what I mean?  What I have kept repeating in this space?  In the end, it is the audience of one who will prevail, and all the early claims and headcounts will amount to nothing.  As for the advance payments, I can only hope the decent ones will return to their senders, if sender is not the “anointed.”

Meanwhile, the playful former mayor of Davao is weighing each of the aspirants by his own metric. Is it loyalty, or intellectual capability, or probity, or all these rolled into one?  Is it leadership ability, whether demonstrated in the past or a quality he has gleaned in the contestants during the years of his association with them, or even during these frenetic months of posturing?  How does the mayor read character?

In his mind, and in his mind alone, he is weighing these, and whatever more.  He may even be purposely giving hints and half-assurances, testing how the contestants would react.  He may be listening to the “murmurings” on the ground, a quality he has mastered, and because of which he has successfully and incontestably ruled Davao for three decades, and became president when nobody but a very few took him seriously.

I would venture a guess: he has made a choice, but would rather keep everybody still guessing. “Tenterhooks”, the way he kept everybody guessing as to whether he would run for president or not.  Not even the 28th of June is cast in stone.  Remember that Comelec deadline he spurned, only to substitute for one Martin Dino, the one reason PDP-Laban got itself resurrected as a political party?  Why, the audience of one may even pull a dark rabbit from out of his hat.

* * *

Even the way President Rodrigo Duterte handled the issue of the 22 fishermen from Mindoro shows how the man can be deliberate, even if at times, his colorful language gets the better of his instant reactions.

He waited for real information, knowing how victims always tend to magnify the ordeal they suffered.  After all, accidents in the high or near seas always happen among fishing vessels, large or small.

Whether collision or allision, accidents happen especially in the dead of the dark night, where our puny vessels are hardly lit. To “jump like chimpanzees,” as Senator Joker Arroyo used to say, is for those who play into emotions for purposes real or political.

Mercifully, the 22 survived, with a little help from our Vietnamese “friends,” who like the Chinese were probably in the vicinity also to fish within our EEZ.  If they had perished, left to the sharks by fleeing Chinese perhaps less mindful of the value of human lives as we are, emotions would have run as high as Mamasapano 44 for the Mindoro 22.

We should use the incident as leverage for pushing China and the region into agreeing to a Code of Conduct over the disputed South China Sea.  There is always a silver lining beyond the clouds, or beneath the ocean waves, and an opportunity to explore amid crisis.

Topics: House of Representatives , Martin Dino , PDP-Laban , Bloc , Rodrigo Duterte , Joker Arroyo
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