LOST PARTY

It is understandable if the likes of Jejomar Binay or JV Ejercito keep their swashbuckling animus while the object of their best punch remains standing. They are now back on the drawing board charting how best to politically decapitate their target. While the budget from Tanay keeps on coming. These opposition top honchos remain unperturbed and whether they are successful or not does not matter since the Malacanang tenant expects thunderbolts from their direction anyway courtesy of their patron, Erap.

On Monday, July 25, 2005 most eyes are focused on the Senate President, Franklin Drilon. It is interesting to see how he comports himself behind GMA and beside the Cheshire cat, Joe de Venecia. Sen. Miriam Defender has described the nights of Drilon as sleepless. His hold on his position, “jittery”.

The Liberal Party was never the same again, when on July 8, 2005, Drilon and the rest of his partymates in the Senate and a ragtag group of congressmen announced their break from the majority coalition and asked, in no uncertain terms, the resignation of the President. Prior to the quit call, Drilon seconded Congressman Erin Tanada of Quezon to trek the rounds of TV stations and dropped the bombshell of “resign GMA”. Nobody from the ranks castigated the amateur Tanada to shut up. His party mates in Quezon, with the exception of Raffy Nantes and Procy Alcala, asked the head of GMA implicitly.

Quezon therefore remains opposition country. This time the sitting governor is backstopped by Congressman Suarez and his Vice Governor son from the third district. There is now formed an amorphous separation of the fresh from the brackish water.

The Quezon Liberals do not care whether their boss Drilon is a lost soul, his destiny unknown. Of course, GMA’s allies in the palace are now busy plotting moves against the Senate President. Whereas, some of his followers from Quezon in the House are financially independent, the President is still mulling the idea of a call for unity in the SONA and some eager beavers who jumped ship at the height of the storm might reconsider to clamber up again in the presidential battered ship.

The Liberal Party looked promising when it reorganized before the 2004 elections, with Drilon, a brilliant lawyer and seasoned politician and bureaucrat, drafted and eventually installed as its President.

The party’s officers are formidable in their own right with the likes of Mayor Lito Atienza as Chairman, and the bright boys in the Senate headed by a presidentiable, Mar Roxas. Roxas is a combination, no doubt, of popularity, breeding, and acumen. The latter’s topping the 2004 senatorial elections made the LP the new kid on the block attracting ideologues and traditional politicos. With the re-emergence of the new LP, people looked at it with great expectations. Its aligning with the incumbent president all the more made it redoubtable.   Last elections, the LP was assured of a bigger slice of the campaign budget. In fact, Secretary Raul Gonzalez of the Department of Justice was heard griping that being the highest Lakas official in Ilo-Ilo, his candidates were starved of campaign funds in favour of Drilon’s local LP. Drilon was seen demanding a fixed budget for the LP candidates all over, to the discomfort of Lakas supporters. The palace apparently succumbed to the demands of Drilon that left some other parties in the F4 coalition scampering for funds. In fact, the GMA campaign lieutenants micromanaged the campaign by distributing the campaign kitties direct to the barangay officials. This was made apparent from the Garci tapes where the President was berating the man purportedly Commissioner Garcillano of the Comelec to lay his hands off in local squabbles as this might affect the configuration of the presidential votes as planned. “Garci” in that conversation was asking the President who was her candidate in that particular province so that he could do what is necessary with less fuss. The President cut him off by saying “Ay naku, huwag mo ng paki-alaman sa ibaba baka maapektuhan lang tayo!” That is how the locals were seen condescendingly from the top. Anyway, “Garci” defended the locals by telling the President that he had to know so that his operations would not be jeopardized. He needed the cooperation of the ground warriors otherwise he could not work by his lonesome effectively.

The locals especially in the province believe in party loyalty. From the tapes, one got the shock of his life on how party allegiance, a basic virtue of a purported public servant, is flushed down the drain. The electoral exercise was after all just going thru the motion, nothing less.

Drilon, by now has been licking his wounds. Right now he is mustering some courage in orchestrating a line of alleged irregularities allegedly committed by the Arroyo administration. Foremost was the non-bidding of the North Rail Transit. He also mentioned about allegedly giving the president some advice which the latter apparently ignored, “to the detriment of the nation”, according to the Senate President. Drilon forgets that an adviser’s word has no legal effect and may be ignored. An advice grants the president a galaxy of options. An adviser need not sulk, like Lt. Sonny Fuzz of Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey, if his advice is thrown in the back burner.

By lambasting the North Rail Project, Drilon is indirectly on collision course with the Vice President. Noli de Castro has a role in the relocation of the squatter-settlers along the affected railways being the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development and Coordinating Council. This involves millions of pesos. By linking the Vice President to the designed expose, it brings back the deluge of muck thrown at de Castro in the 2004 elections, popular among which was the catch call “Magandang Gabi Bayad”, a play on the title of the popular weekly TV program of de Castro stressing his alleged reputation as an attack-and-collect-defend-and-collect broadcaster.

This looks like one way of getting back to the Vice President, who was slow to react, to his advantage. The cabal was finally out that the group of Cory Aquino, the Hyatt 10, and the LP met and plotted their course of action prior to their separate announcements of withdrawal of support. It proved to be a miscalculation. The Hong Kong tryst between de Castro and Cesar Purisima while it undoubtedly titillated the latter, failed to sink in on the next man.

The expression of disgust for the President did not sit well with the LP Chairman, Mayor Atienza. Right off, he distanced himself from the conspiring and ambitious Drilon. Drilon tried to save the day by claiming that his wing’s position was a minor party dissension and could be fixed by the party’s rules. Atienza, and his Manila congressmen with the young Andaya of Bicol, however, could not be mollified. They are now the fair-haired boys of GMA.

Drilon and company is a third party broker. Villar is the fourth party dealer.  Both offered the clueless Vice President of a new beginning with Drilon or Villar as the new Vice President-designate. In Quezon, we call it “hudasan”. Nope, this is not the Japanese Jude.

Instead of getting the image of an underdog, the Drilon group appeared to be power hungry and self-righteous. Now Drilon is a failed Vice Presidential wannabe.

Many were disappointed with the Liberal Party, a lost and leaderless party. It went like the other parties before it. Wracked with discord, peopled with ambitious men with feet of clay, it was no different from the party abandoned by Ramon Magsaysay, Jose Avelino, Emmanuel Pelaez and Ferdinand Marcos.

In fact, the LP Quezon Vice Governor and his handful of party pals rejected the call of Bokal Ely Pasamba of Lakas for a resolution of support for the embattled President. With the unabashed show of support by the Vice Governor, his father is not far behind from the call to go.

The rest of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan, notably the factotum of the wheel-chair bound governor thumbed down the sponsorship of Pasamba, “without discussion,” in solidarity with the ailing governor whose affection with the departed FPJ remains sacrosanct, thanks to his paid hacks in the Sanggunian. That is how the miracle of 5% from the SOP works. Without the monthly jueteng payola of P50, 000.00 per the sitting official’s sycophant in the Sanggunian, they look forward for the crumbs from the generous tight pocket of the greedy kid in Alabang who keeps the bulk of 20%. That makes all projects in Quezon over priced. Without any efforts from these leeches, they parlayed the abated land taxes paid by Mirant and Quezon Power Plant as if there is no tomorrow. Anyway…

In Quezon, the announced gubernatorial candidates come from LP. They are now deep in destroying each other. One calls the other names with the tag Lord. It is not surprising that the Quezon LP is the Lord’s Party: Gambling Lord, SOP Lord, and Lord of the Lords.

What we all hear from the Tanada-Suarez, et al. are nothing but sound and fury signifying nothing. The lawyers call it, brutum fulmen or unfeeling thunder or empty threat.

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