Turmoil in both administration and opposition camps
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-02-01
Major cracks are showing. Lacking in patriotic ideology and vision, both the administration and opposition political camps are now beginning to show their true colors. Personality politics is rearing its ugly head as ego and self-interest start to assert themselves in the choice of candidates and party-mates for the May elections.

Don’t you find it odd that House Speaker Joe de Venecia (JDV) is actually pushing for a bill that prohibits or sanctions party turncoatism? Can you believe it – that the very architect of the Rainbow Coalition, which banded together even incompatible political personalities and parties into a united front for self-perpetuation, now wants to penalize party traitors?

Rainbow Coalition is political doublespeak for privilege membership to the exclusive club of administrative perks and pork barrel. As the high priest of political maneuver, JDV has effectively sacrificed public welfare and interest by eliminating check and balance. Instead, public interest and welfare has been swept under the dirty rug of horse trading – the scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours variety. Joe operates on the premise that every congressman has a price. And based on results, he seems to be almost 90% correct!

No, a divine lightning of enlightenment didn’t strike Joe on his way to Batasan Hills much like Paul on the road to Damascus in proposing to sanction party turncoats. Joe is actually fighting his own personal battle, one that seems altogether distinct from the survival pitches of his own Lakas-CMD party.

Following Joe’s fall from grace due to the aborted attempt to ram Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) down our throats, Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s personal political party, Kampi, has been poaching on Joe’s Lakas-CMD. What is worse for Joe is that a very strong candidate – Benjie Lim – is poised to run against him in the First District of Pangasinan and I’m told that Lim is a hands down favorite to beat Joe.

Dagupan City is the single biggest chunk of vote in the First District and Dagupan is Benjie Lim’s bailiwick. There is reliable feedback that former President Fidel V. Ramos is siding with Benjie Lim in a Lim versus JDV contest.

But Joe is not the type who will go down quietly. What if Joe and Lakas-CMD enter into a coalition with the emerging third force? Can the administration run at full throttle with just Kampi powering it? Cops versus soldiers
The appointment of retired Police Chief Hermogenes Ebdane to the post of Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) is yet another unsettling development coming from the very ranks of the administration. Sources from both active and retired military officers question the wisdom of that appointment, not to mention the motives.

Many were surprised that a former cop, rather than a civilian or at the very least, another former military officer has been appointed DND Secretary. Among the questions that they raise are the following:

1. Is this a move to clamp down on dissenters in the military? Has the rift between Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her officers and troops sunk so deep that she now does not trust a military man in an inherently military position?

2. Is this appointment related to the regime’s need to load the dice for the coming May 2007 elections where reliable surveys show majority of voters poised to repudiate the Arroyo regime?

Former DND Secretary Nonong Cruz confirmed that the officers and troops resent being involved in election operations where they can become unwitting political pawns. Among those in the military who resent being involved in election operations, it is openly talked about that Ebdane was coordinating with the controversial Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the 2004 elections. Opposition woes are just as bad
On the side of the opposition, the UNO (United Opposition) lost Kit Tatad, Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Tito Sotto. Even before Tatad, Aquino-Oreta and Sotto made their defection, LDP President, Senator Ed Angara, sent signals that he is more inclined to run with the emerging third force.

As I predicted, the basically Nacionalista Party (NP) and Liberal Party (LP) coalition is now developing as the main opposition force, eclipsing UNO. Even Senator Ping Lacson, once associated with UNO, is now revolving around the orbit of the emerging force from the ranks of re-electionist NP and LP Senators.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile resigned as President of Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa Ng Masa Party (PMP) while former Senator John Osmeña, once listed as UNO Senatorial candidate, is now reported to be joining the administration ticket.

These musical chairs merely reflect the players’ need to preserve personal political interests. Tatad, Aquino-Oreta, Sotto and John Osmeña saw that that they would be bumped off the UNO ticket. Aquino-Oreta and Sotto are now seeking shelter in another party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) of Danding Cojuangco.

Finding herself in the awkward side of these shifts is Loren Legarda. Loren Legarda’s star rose when she assumed a prominent role in Joseph Estrada’s impeachment trial of 2000 and 2001. However, her strong support base in the middle class junked her when she agreed to be the running mate of Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) during the 2004 presidential elections. Even her own former classmates in Assumption College expressed their disgust at what they called crass opportunism on her part.

Now, Legarda butters up to Estrada. She avers that Estrada can easily deliver 30% of the votes (predominantly masa votes) to the candidates he supports. Loren Legarda’s new affection for Estrada, whom she now gives her moral support and confidence, is stark contrast to her dramatic performance as prosecutor of Estrada during the impeachment proceedings. Isn’t that a case of prostitution for principles, the essence of Harlot Politics?

One wonders how those who now attempt to rehabilitate the disgraced Joseph Estrada will cope with Charlie "Atong" Ang’s plea bargain which in the process confirms Estrada’s complicity in Ang’s tobacco excise tax rap. No matter how Estrada’s followers explain it, Atong Ang is too closely identified with the former president that Ang’s plea bargain can only serve to establish Estrada’s guilt and therefore lead to conviction before the Court of Public Opinion. Where is Juan de la Cruz in all this?
While this theatre of the absurd is unfolding, poor Juan de la Cruz is wondering: Where exactly do I figure in all this? Thus far, Juan de la Cruz sees nothing, hears nothing that promises to address his greatest concerns. All he sees and hears are actions and reactions of the political players that pander only to the beatings of their selfish hearts.

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