SONA grab

>> Tuesday, July 31, 2018

March Fianza

“Grab” has been in the news since last year. Whether it is a way to travel from one place to another on a motor vehicle called grab taxi, or a power grab as employed by politicians, it is a confused word that is misunderstood on all fronts.
What concerned me among many whose eyes were glued to the TV, and who expected last Monday to listen to the third state of the nation address of President Duterte, was for him to deliver it on time to those who were anxious about what he was to say this time.
But this was delayed for an hour due to a power grab by the camp of the supporters of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo who wrestled from Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez his position as House Speaker.
As seen by millions on TV, a majority of the members of congress ousted Alvarez by voting GMA into occupying the House Speaker’s position after declaring it first as “vacant”.
It was like history repeating itself. Only this time, GMA took over power from House Speaker Alvarez, a familiar picture of her oath-taking in an orange colored dress, after taking over from President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in January of 2001.
A day after a quick survey of the messy circus, some congressmen including majority floor leader Rudy Farinas questioned the House Resolution installing GMA, saying the removal of Alvarez was maneuvered and unceremonious because House rules and procedures were not properly followed.
There was more confusion an hour before the SONA when Arroyo took her oath at the stage of the session hall and became Speaker of the House. Still, Alvarez was the one who welcomed President Duterte to the House after alighting from his chopper.
I am no fan of House Speaker Alvarez and former President Gloria M. Arroyo so whoever sits as chief legislator is the least of my worries. Any of the two will do. But as for the abrupt change in leadership in the House, it strengthened the fact that nothing is permanent in politics.
Some congressmen revealed to news reporters that the ouster of Alvarez had been brewing. This was due to his conflict with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte after the latter organized another political party last year.
Other lawmakers say they were no longer satisfied with his leadership after he made controversial statements on nationwide television that he was in favor of postponing the 2019 elections. Furthermore, even Duterte and the senators are opposed to the “No-El” of Alvarez.
On the contrary, I heard people say that democracy is healthy and at work in the Philippines with the latest circus that took place on the Batasan floor. Others say it was one more abuse of democracy.
Meanwhile, some observers guessed that the action of people in the House who dethroned Alvarez took the signal from President Duterte himself, saying that any change in leadership comes with the blessings of the topmost politician in the land.
They say the signal passed through presidential daughter Sara so that the ouster of Alvarez will not be opposed. True, Duterte and his partymates did not stop her from calling and gathering allies in congress.
This, after they heard Alvarez make pronouncements without consulting his colleagues in congress, as though he can get away with doing anything and saying anything he wanted to.
From where I watched as a lowly citizen in a place practically detached from the central government in Manila, all I can do was speculate how politicians are able to pull the rug from under Duterte’s feet. For self-preservation and promotion, the congressmen grabbed the limelight from the President.
With the political power grab still fresh in his mind, the President stressed his legislative plan and priorities in his SONA that was brief, but with lost momentum and suspense.
The President looked upset and disappointed because circus clowns stole the thunder from his speech. Many won’t mind and I don’t care even while I saw a troubled face.
Life should still go on for TV spectators, even with what had just happened. Although, I feel unusually odd because President Duterte’s speech was subdued and boring as he forgot to ramble and curse.


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