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‘Off with his head!’ — Marcos tightens control of Senate

You are currently viewing ‘Off with his head!’ — Marcos tightens control of Senate

OF course, I’m not insinuating anything, with that phrase uttered by Queen Margaret in Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” and by the Queen of Hearts in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

But Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri’s ouster comes just when the hearings of the Committee on Public Order on the so-called PDEA leaks were getting some traction, weeks after media and the committee’s other members ignored them.

The hearings had focused on the claim of a former agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Jonathan Morales, that he had signed a surveillance order in 2012 on then-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for alleged cocaine use, but which was ordered stopped by then-executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, who at the time was a partner in a law firm with Marcos’ wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos. Ochoa at the hearing last Monday denied the allegation, and it would seem that would have been the end of the hearings.

But then another “resource person” of dubious background, I think, claimed that Majinder Kumar, an Indian Filipino businessman, would be financing the operations to stop Morales, by hook or by crook. Social media rushed to find out who he was, and lo and behold, photos were posted of the first lady and the President with Kumar. The businessman contributed — according to Comelec records — P20 million to Marcos’ presidential campaign finances. With that kind of money that Kumar put up, I wouldn’t blame him for asking for help from Marcos.

Just a coincidence? Two weeks after PDEA hearings, (from left) Tolentino is the Senate majority leader, Escudero is the Senate president, and Estrada is Senate president pro tempore. SCREEN GRAB FROM SENATE HEARING

Sen. Ronald de la Rosa subpoenaed Kumar to appear in his investigation, and when he said he was sick — with him shown via Zoom looking not too well in his hospital bed — the chairman of the committee said he would schedule another hearing when he gets well.

Hearsay

Zubiri appeared at the third hearing and warned that it should not be used for political purposes and insinuated that Morales’ allegation was hearsay. But for Malacañang, perhaps Zubiri’s efforts were too half-hearted. Useless. So, off with his head?

Zubiri himself said at the press conference right after his ouster as Senate president that “the simple fact is that I wasn’t following instructions from the ‘powers-that-be,’ so I was replaced.”

He was partly referring to his failure to stop the PDEA hearings, which he could have done since that was what other members of de la Rosa’s committee, especially Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (who badgered Morales as if he were his enemy) and Escudero (who said on the second day of the hearings that it was useless for the investigation to be prolonged), wanted. The PDEA hearings may have been, for Marcos, the last straw.

The two, of course, were very amply rewarded, with Escudero getting the third highest post in the land, the Senate presidency — historically a major stepping stone to the presidency.

Estrada was voted Senate president pro tempore, the second highest officer of the Senate, which he had not dreamed of in his wildest dreams because of his having been convicted by the Sandiganbayan for bribery in January in the pork barrel scam. If that court implements its decision, Estrada will not only be jailed for at least 10 years and pay a fine of P3 million; he will be banned from ever running for public office. Sen. Francis Tolentino, who attended the PDEA hearings, was appointed majority floor leader and concurrent chairman of the Committee on Rules.

Conviction

Now, Estrada sees a way for his conviction to be reversed, either through his and President Marcos’ lobbying, first in the Sandiganbayan and then the Supreme Court. In gratitude for Estrada being the witness Morales’ foremost character-assassin, Marcos could also pardon him, which would lift the ban that is part of his sentence on running for public office. “Why, I could even be the third sibling of a Philippine president to be president,” he probably is thinking.

But Zubiri was also categorically referring to the Senate’s huge role in stopping dead in the water Marcos and his cousin Martin Romualdez’s plot to change the Constitution through the so-called “people’s initiative” conspiracy.

Under this plot, Congress will be constituted as a constituent assembly, forming a single body of both 315 representatives and 24 senators. That would obviously make the Senate’s 24 votes powerless, with the Romualdez-controlled 300 or so congressmen totally controlling what amendments to the Constitution will be made, the principal one of which would be to change the set-up to a single-chamber parliament, with members voted as the House is on a district level.

Structure

In that structure, Speaker Romualdez would be the next leader of the nation after Marcos, and after him, Ferdinand Alexander Marcos III, and so on ad nauseam.

Even as no senator in his right mind would have agreed to the Romualdez plot, as this would mean the Senate’s suicide, Malacañang blamed Zubiri for the Senate’s opposition to the plot and for conducting hearings on the questionable use of P5 billion in funds intended for a poverty-alleviation program to finance the initiative.

What made it easy for Malacañang to remove Zubiri is the fact that while appearing to be buddy-buddy with each other, each senator is a “republic” on his or her own, having spent at least P3 billion in election expenses for the post, each would want to recover their money, which they’d need if they decide to run for president or at least vice president, or for a very luxurious retirement.

Zubiri’s removal created vacancies as the new president Escudero would appoint his senators to the well-compensated posts, such as president pro tempore, majority leader, and chairmen of the over 40 Senate committees, 20 of which are powerful committees. The Senate president, president pro tempore and majority leader are ex-officio members of all the committees.

Eight

My sources claimed that there were initially only eight senators who plotted to remove Zubiri, three of whom had been asked by Malacañang to initiate the move to oust him. This increased to 11 last Friday and then 14 senators by Sunday, as strangely — or maybe not — three senators that former President Duterte had campaigned for jumped fences. “They didn’t want to be viewed as rabidly anti-Marcos that they won’t get any committee chairmanship,” a source claimed.

Strangely, Escudero, Tolentino and even de la Rosa in their press conferences in the past two days — nor any other senator involved in the plot — haven’t divulged why they wanted Zubiri removed. Removing a Senate president is very serious stuff; why, oh why did they?

One senator, though, claimed that Zubiri and his close allies “sold us down the river of GAA 2023 & 2024, getting the gravy of over P100 billion.” The senator, though, didn’t elaborate.

We should take seriously Zubiri’s claim that” he hadn’t followed Malacañang’s instructions, so he was replaced. Is being servile to Malacañang the default position of the Senate? What happened or will happen to what Zubiri claimed is the “last bastion of democracy?”

With Zubiri so easily replaced, will Escudero choose to be the Palace minion? It depends; if things go well for Marcos, a good economy and his respectable popularity, Escudero will be super-servile and do all he can for Marcos to endorse him in the 2028 elections. If not, he’ll be Marcos’ pain-in-the-ass, an articulate and popular one with an actress beside him, and strive to be the opposition’s noisy champion, and president in 2028.

PDEA agent Morales may have changed the course of our history.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jonathan B. Bangui

    President Escodero in 2028? I don’t think so. VP Sara is THE CURE to these rotten administration. More agreeable and plausible to reality is former PDEA agent Morales may indeed changed the course of our history. Hopefully before Marcos Junior succomed to COCAINE overdose.

  2. Cecille Chan

    I hope the Filipinos are smarter than they appear to be. Stop wasting your time listening to all the theatrics of all the politicians. They all belong to the swarm. They have disagreements among themselves, but the least of their concern is your welfare. Study system science and learn the only possible solution to all the ails in the world. Stop thinking your country is the “puppet of the US government” because the US itself is completely controlled by the Zionists. Zionism is a political ideology, and its members seek to have complete control of the world. Wake up!

  3. The earlier this corrupt US puppet government is gurgur’ed, the better for the Filipino people. It has to be done soonest, before innocent Filipino lives are sacrificed for the US hegemon’s geopolitical interests.

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