Did 13 Senators vote according to political realignments?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-02-16

No doubt encouraged by the Senate 13 (for respecting the Supreme Court TRO) versus 10 (for rejecting the TRO) vote, Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona is now crying “persecution” — as if laying the basis for his next move. On the surface, he’s seeking to inhibit Senator-Judges whom the CJ feels are out to hang him, but his real game could be to ask the SC to stop the impeachment trial.

Voting to respect the SC TRO were Senator-Judges Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago, Ralph Recto, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Chiz Escudero, Koko Pimentel, Bong Revilla, Bongbong Marcos, Manny Villar, Tito Sotto, Gringo Honasan and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE). Those who voted to reject the SC TRO were Senator-Judges Frank Drilon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Serge Osmena, TG Guingona, Kiko Pangilinan, Ed Angara, Ping Lacson, Lito Lapid and Antonio Trillanes III.

Some of the Senator-Judges explained their respective votes. Experience however tells long-time political watchers not to always believe what politicians say to justify their actions. Hypocrisy, after all, isn’t just a national pastime in our country — you’ll find that the higher you go up the social ladder, the thicker the hypocrisy skin that you’ll encounter.

In marketing there’s the accepted norm that people are motivated to purchase a certain brand because of what are called primary and secondary reasons. Survey why people who bought the Benz chose that brand of car and the likely primary reason for doing so will be such product attributes as superior engineering, comfort, safety and so forth. However, in many cases, the secondary reason — for the status symbol — could well be the real clincher as to why the expensive Benz was patronized.

Your Chair Wrecker saw a different context to how the 13 Senator-Judges who voted to respect the SC TRO bonded together. More than legal principles or strong personal beliefs — the 13 votes were cast according to new political realignments that have already been taking shape for the 2013 elections and the more important 2016 presidential elections.

There were odd men out in the votes. Lito Lapid, Ralph Recto, Ed Angara and siblings Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano appear as different from how the rest voted. One would think that Alan and Pia would vote as a block with Manny Villar, Loren Legarda and Bongbong Marcos — all of the Nacionalista Party (NP). They did when the first division of the house was held. Recto on the other hand is a Liberal Party (LP) member, the political party of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy). Until 2010, Lapid was a staunch supporter of detained former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

Removing these five odd men out, one sees the votes as a division of the house between LP members and supporters versus non-LP members. Senators Bong Revilla, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago and Tito Sotto are members of Lakas-CMD. Villar, Legarda and Marcos Jr. are NP members. Senators Chiz Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Koko Pimentel and Juan Ponce-Enrile, are all part of the PDP-Laban-Pwersa ng Masa et al political coalition behind Vice President Jojo Binay. Gringo Honasan is officially an independent but we all know how attached he is to JPE.

The swing votes in the impeachment trial would be that of the PDP-Laban-Pwersa ng Masa et al coalition supporting Vice President Jojo Binay. The four of them — Escudero, Estrada, Koko Pimentel and JPE — are still members of P-Noy’s political coalition. What could have prodded these allies to take the pro-TRO stand was the fear that once CJ Renato Corona is replaced, Associate Justice Tony Carpio would be appointed as the replacement CJ.

When Mar Roxas filed his election protest against Jojo Binay, immediately there were howls from the Binay camp that Associate Justice Tony Carpio should inhibit. At one time a core group member of The Firm, there was the natural suspicion that Justice Tony Carpio would be sympathetic to the election protest of Mar Roxas, which The Firm is handling. Then too there had been too much noise from known Mar Roxas political allies that graft and corruption cases will be filed against Jojo Binay. Again, a Tony Carpio court would be the last place these cases should go, if the Binay camp would have its way.

Early on during the first month of the P-Noy administration, your Chair Wrecker cautioned the President that this election protest poses serious threats to the political stability of his government. Jojo Binay as the loyal ally of the president would have been the ideal situation for P-Noy. Jojo Binay, as Vice President, opposing the President could become the ultimate unwitting destabilizer of the P-Noy administration.

Isn’t it too early to be playing politics, you might ask? The politicians will always say that to conceal their real political motivations.

In mid-2009, a trusted staff member of a very close GMA aide and operator told your Chair Wrecker that investors in the gaming paradise the former regime was promoting expressed continuity concerns. The GMA regime told them that everything’s already been arranged. There will be a pro-GMA president in 2010 and Mikey Arroyo will be the 2016 president.

Trust politicians to forever engage in the best-laid plans of mice and men.

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