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Romualdez, shoo-in for the speakership

AT least for me, that is. And I use just one criterion for evaluating the character and political maturity of the two main candidates, Martin Romualdez and Alan Peter Cayetano: Each one’s stance toward then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the US- and Yellow-led frenzy against her, and especially during the Benigno Aquino 3rd administration.

Despite Benigno Aquino 3rd’s ruthlessness towards anybody who defended Arroyo, Romualdez supported her, leading and keeping intact Arroyo’s Kampi party when she was imprisoned on baseless charges by the Yellow Cult for five long years.

When visitors to the detained Arroyo at the Veterans’ Memorial Hospital dwindled at the height of the Yellows’ rule, when even many of her officials didn’t dare be seen there, Romualdez regularly visited her, keeping her informed of her party and political developments, when she was banned from having a TV or using the internet.

Romualdez’ closeness to Arroyo is a big plus for him. He in effect has been the understudy of Arroyo, who has demonstrated in a year her competence in leading the House to be an effective partner of Duterte in reforming the country. Arroyo’s vast experience in the roughest politics would complement his book knowledge on government and management from Cornell and Harvard.

And the other contender, Alan Peter Schramm Cayetano? Romualdez’s political opposite.

Think about this. His sister Pia as senator became known as a crusader for women’s and children’s rights and Filipinos’ health. What has Cayetano been known for?

As a strident holier-than-everybody leader of the lynch mobs against Arroyo.

Even his official biography when he was senator, still posted in the Senate’s website, practically boasts that he was Arroyo’s nemesis: He was “the spokesman of the impeachment team that sought to hold President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo liable for stealing, lying and cheating… It was under his stewardship of the blue ribbon committee when the graft-ridden NBN-ZTE deal was first investigated which led to the scrapping of the multi-million dollar project.” Those things he boasts of turned out to be total horseshit.

Cayetano in fact is one of that shameless trio who became senators solely because of the anti-Arroyo froth they had on their lips, the other two being Antonio Trillanes 4th and Risa Hontiveros.

Worse, Cayetano strived to convince the mob of his anti-Arroyo vehemence, thinking this would catapult him to the vice presidency. Instead of — as a senator of the Republic should — expounding on why he was convinced Arroyo was corrupt, his mantra whenever he was interviewed in media was: “Arroyo is a stealing, lying and cheating president.” He thought that kind of language would go viral, and would be attributed to him. How short our memories are.

Either Cayetano was stupid, mentally lazy, gullible, or didn’t have the intellectual capacity not to have seen through the Yellows’ demonization of Arroyo. Or, he was too diabolically opportunistic to exploit for his ambitions — colleagues are convinced he thinks he would be youngest Philippine president — the anti-Arroyo frenzy during that period. Most probably, he was both.

It has now become clear as day that Arroyo was charged and jailed solely because of Aquino 3rd’s petty vindictiveness for inexplicable reasons, and because this suited the Yellow oligarchs’ and American interests. All cases brought against Arroyo in just over a year has been proven to be baseless, and she has proven to be one of the best Speakers ever, getting the House to quickly pass laws this country urgently needs. And for that she lost five years of her life, wasted in detention.

Has Cayetano apologized to Arroyo for being one of the noisiest leaders of the mob against her, demanding that she be hanged?

Would you choose to become the head of such a powerful body as the House of Representatives somebody who is either gullible or opportunistic, or both? Cayetano would have slipped to political oblivion if he wasn’t so desperate as to quickly support Duterte’s candidacy when, I was told, Aquino 3rd kicked him out and instead chose Leni Robredo as the Yellows’ vice presidential candidate.

To be honest, I cannot fathom why such a disagreeable, egotistic politician as Cayetano whose forehead has an I’ll-be-president-soon neon sign can even think he could be a unifying Speaker of the House of Representatives. Cayetano has been, and always will be, a speaker only for himself.

Colossal crimes
Another of Aquino’s colossal crimes against the nation was his removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which he thought could get the Supreme Court to give his clan’s Hacienda Luisita P5 billion in compensation for being put under land reform. The Corona-led court had agreed to only P200 million.

Cayetano again was at the head of the pack of this lynch mob against the Chief Justice. During the trial period, he received P120 million* in pork-barrel funds and an additional P50 million from the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Plan money. These “timely” releases were obviously intended to convince him and other senators to remove Corona,

Has he ever explained this pork-barrel releases, and apologized for being part of the conspiracy that assaulted our highest court? Certainly not.

The dark days of the Yellow Cult has ended, its lies laid bare with Duterte’s assumption to power three years ago. Cayetano was part of that Yellow regime. And he thinks he should be Speaker of the House, a jumping board for the vice presidency or even the presidency in 2022?

How short our memories are.

Said to be a dark horse for the speakership is Marinduque congressman Lord Allan Jay Velasco. (Sorry, but why name a son “Lord,” and give him three surnames?)

Who he? To be honest, already a journalist, I’ve never heard of this fellow. A bit of research though turns out the fact that will make his colleagues hesitate to choose him as their leader. This is because he got to be where he is now because of a legal decision, not in the hard way they did, which is still really through guns, goons and gold.

Velasco run for reelection as Marinduque congressman in 2013, and lost to Regina Reyes by 4,000 votes. The Comelec, however, disqualified Reyes, because of, among other things, she allegedly hadn’t complied with the legal requirements to retain her citizenship when she became a US citizen.

Reyes appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Comelec no longer had jurisdiction over the case since Velasco was already declared the winner. The proper venue, it said, was the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. Of course, his father, Presbiterio Velasco, a Supreme Court justice, took no part in the decision, officially or unofficially.

While Velasco won handily in the recent elections, there’s still the question that would cross congressmen’s minds when they are asked to choose who to lead them: If the Comelec had not disqualified his rival in 2013 and allowed him to assume his post in 2016, would he have won in the 2019 elections?

So why on earth would this 41-year-old congressman who had a troubled route to his congressional seat, have the gall to think he can be Speaker, in the league of such political titans as the late Ramon Mitra, Jose de Venecia, Manuel Villar and Arroyo?

Whenever I ask people who the heck this guy is, they answer first, he is the son of the former Supreme Court justice Velasco who retired last year after 12 years in the court. I reply: “Are you saying ‘Presbi’ amassed a mountain of political IOUs from political players when he was Supreme Court justice, maybe even from Duterte’s camp, that they could get his politically inexperienced son to become Speaker?”

An affirmative answer of course wouldn’t be flattering to Presbi, or Duterte.

A second answer is whispered though: He is backed by one of the country’s most powerful tycoons, who has become a big supporter of the President and his programs. I dare not write to explain the personal reasons I was given for that.

*See my many columns on this, such as “The worst of Aquino’s crimes: His lynch mob vs Corona in 2012” of May 28, 2015. Extensively discussed in my book Debunked.




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