IT is certainly tempting, indeed accurate, to say that the two House committees’ ordering two of our contemporary heroes — bold anti-communist crusaders former Presidential Communications undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and ex-NPA officer Jose Celiz — to be detained for “contempt” is an assault on our free press.
However, the speed at which these congressmen acted on such matters that do not really have any significance to the work of their committee on franchises makes me believe the reason may be more banal, something that our political elite have heard of by now.
This is the widespread report that this early, or barely a year after his cousin Ferdinand Marcos Jr., by a quirk of fate (or by the power of the US) became president, House Speaker Martin Romualdez is assiduously and methodically preparing the ground to be the second of the Marcos-Romualdez progeny to rule the country, either as president or prime minister, or in a French-style system having one as head of state and the other of government.
After all, by the next presidential elections in 2028, Romualdez would be at the height of his intellectual and political prowess at 65, with six years by his cousin’s side learning the ropes of state. Of course, we cannot begrudge a Stanford guy from having such lofty ambitions. We just hope he has a vision and idea of how to make this country finally move forward, and, of course, we hope that the road to the throne would be bloodless, in the figurative sense. He might even be successful and become our Great Leader.
Why do I seem to be jumping to this conclusion based on the persecution of Badoy and Celiz? It was breathtaking how Romualdez’s minions chose to take up an issue few people had heard of — how much the speaker spent in his foreign trips — spend precious time on it, and then order them jailed for contempt. Not only that, they are moving to close down one of the fastest-growing broadcast network, which a still very popular former president Rodrigo Duterte has a regular program on and which has been the venue for now the most listened-to evangelical preachers. Why would they risk making such enemies? Badoy and Celiz dared to criticize the most powerful and most ambitious politician in the country, next, of course, to Marcos.
Come the 2025 elections, these congressmen who undertook Romualdez’s project would certainly feel the impact of Quiboloy’s vengeance — with or without his SMNI.
I don’t have any doubt that it was the Speaker who ordered them to persecute Celiz and Badoy. Celiz already admitted the figures he was given may be wrong: how can he contradict the hard data submitted by House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, a longtime aide of the speaker’s father, the late ambassador Benjamin Romualdez?
But what the representatives wanted — which Romualdez needed to know — is who fed Celiz the wrong information, so he or she could be purged immediately and totally removed from government and politics.
Indeed, Romualdez early on has demonstrated his assiduousness in clearing the smallest stone obstructing his way to succeed his cousin in 2028. With zero charisma, his only platform for higher office is the speakership — so he removed early on the only personality that could replace him, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as senior deputy speaker middle of last year and in November 2022 altogether as a deputy speaker. The House now has nine deputy speakers, all forgettable personalities — except for Ralph Recto — none of whom has the prestige or gravitas of Arroyo, none of whom can challenge Romualdez.
In the case of Celiz and Badoy, Romualdez has sent the clear message: cross or plot against me, and the whole apparatus of the House of Representatives will be brought down against you.
So, what’s the use of realizing that Romualdez early on is meticulously preparing to succeed his cousin? A lot. It would explain much of what’s going on, and what will likely be going on in the next few years.
First, Rodrigo Duterte’s prestige will be crushed, his accomplishments debunked, since it is his name that is really the basis for his daughter Sara’s popularity and the main challenge to Romualdez’s ambitions. Duterte will be demonized as a ruthless mass murderer, with the International Criminal Court allowed to undertake public hearings on his war against drugs.
Second, the US, of course, will be cheering on the ICC. Nobody in the world can go scot-free after calling an American president the son of a whore. Nor can any Philippine president prefer China rather than the US as a friend, without suffering the consequences. Under a Marcos-Romualdez dynasty, we will be a US vassal for a generation until this dynasty is violently overthrown.
The US, as it has been doing now, will prod our Navy and Coast Guard to provoke the Chinese to damage our vessels — even to the point of having casualties — to highlight Sara’s stance of distancing herself from the current administration’s servility to the US.
Third, Sara will be politically crushed, with the character assassins at this time already compiling dossiers on her brothers and her husband. They won’t let Sara continue to be education secretary to the point of her starting to improve that sorry department. Already, the issue of her offices’ using confidential funds has made some dent on her integrity.
In short, the following years will be a repeat of the early 1960s, when the nation’s attention and discourse had been on who will win the great feud — the Lopezes or the Marcoses — and then in the 1980s, when it was over how long would Marcos survive the communist onslaught.
In the meantime, urgent national issues will be relegated to the background — such as what kind of economy should we be building, how much in a crisis mode should we now be in so we don’t fall behind Cambodia in terms of economic level, how much do we need to undertake programs the likes of what China did when it pulled up 500 million of its citizens from poverty.
What an unlucky country indeed.
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