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Who Speaks for this House? May 30, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics.

The Challenger The Reigning Champion

Even before the ink has dried on the COMELEC tally sheets, the forces of Kampi are already squaring off against the forces of Lakas-CMD, all for the purpose of wresting control of the House of Representatives as its much-coveted Speaker of the House. In the red corner, we have the Kampi challenger, wearing the beige gusot mayaman barong, weighing approximately 150 lbs. He is the former Governor of Cebu Province, the Honorable Gentleman of the Second District of Cebu, a father and a former top-notcher of the Bar Exams, Atty. Pablo Garcia (“Pabling”). In the blue corner, we have the reigning Lakas-CMD champion, wearing the off-white pinya barong and weighing in at approximately 149 lbs., a long-time national political stalwart and president of the Lakas-CMD, the Honorable Gentleman of the Fourth District of Pangasinan, Speaker Jose de Venecia (“Joe de V”).

It looks like it will be an interesting fight. Other names have been mentioned, but I believe the real showdown is between Joe de V and Pabling.

Statistically speaking, Kampi by itself does not have enough votes to place Pabling into the Speakership position. It has only 65 members in the Lower House as against the 116 votes needed to win the position. Hence it needs 51 more votes to lodge Pabling as Speaker of the House. In turn, Lakas-CMD has around 92 members, but it’s up to Kampi to convince the other parties (i.e., Liberal, Nacionalista, and the like) to swing votes their way.

The determining factor in this debacle, I believe, will be up to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (“GMA”). Her favorable endorsement over either Pabling or Joe de V, will determine who the other Congressmen will support, as the President has the power to hold or release funding for the Congressmen’s various projects. So, to ensure that the flow of money remains unhindered between them and GMA, these Congressmen will scramble to show support on the nominee who has GMA’s blessings.

The President’s official stand is, of course, to say that she will leave the matter up to the Congressmen to decide, as she refuses to interfere in a co-equal and separate body of government. But of course, everybody knows that’s just the propaganda. The real score is that the President has very personal vested interest to see who will become the next Speaker of the House, since this Speaker virtually wields the Sword of Damocles hanging over GMA’s head, namely the impeachment proceedings that her now more-powerful opponents from the Genuine Opposition will surely launch against her once the election fever has abated.

As every law student worth his Constitutional law eyebags knows, impeachment proceedings against the President must be initiated with the Lower House. Hence, it is imperative for GMA to ensure that the Speaker of the House is her man because it will be the Speaker of the House’s job to quash and utterly destroy any impeachment proceeding launched against her.

In this matter, the President has a Solomonic decision against her as she will determine whether Joe de V or Pabling should be her soldier in the upcoming battle that lies ahead. On one hand, Joe de V is clearly on her side. He’s a very powerful force to reckon in national politics, and being a veteran of impeachment proceedings, Joe de V will know the twists and turns and the strings to pull to swing things in the President’s favor. Should GMA not protect him, Joe de V will prove to be one dire enemy against her.

On the other hand, Pabling Garcia represents the one last bastion that has consistently proven loyal to GMA in both the 2004 and 2007 elections, namely the Province and City of Cebu. Cebu’s support is crucial since it is one of the most vote-rich provinces in the country, and because it is not that easy to cheat in Cebu, Hello Garci scandals be damned. Pabling holds both power and influence in Cebu, being a former Governor of the province, and because the incumbent Governor, Gwendolyn Garcia, is his daughter. Plus, he has his son Pablo John as newly-elected House Representative for the Cebu Third District, and a host of other relatives and friends holding key positions in the government.

So who will the President endorse? Choosing one will alienate the other. Both men are loyal to her, and both men have vested interests at stake in becoming Speaker of the House. Both men will destroy her if they do not get what they want.

Allow me to play the armchair political analyst and reasonably deduce that the President will rationally choose the incumbent Speaker of the House, Jose de Venecia. Why? There are two factors. One is that Joe de V is already a seasoned veteran of impeachment proceedings, having successfully quashed two attempts against GMA a few years back. He possesses all the clout and innings to all the other House Reps and Senators that Pabling does not have. Pabling, a newcomer to national politics, could not reasonably hope to even match the political prowess and legedermain of the more experienced Joe de V. The second factor is that Joe de V is a force to reckon with on his own, with ties, I suspect, to the military, as well as loyal political allies under his wing. GMA does not want him for an enemy, and it’s clear that Joe de V would consider the loss of his Speakership position as one involving a loss of face and honor. He would not take Pabling’s intrusion lying down. GMA better watch out.

However, GMA cannot afford to alienate the Garcias for the reasons above-mentioned, more so considering that the Garcias are the future leaders of Cebu. The Osmena clan is already waning as its only political stalwarts are feeling the inevitable pull of time and age. The Garcias however has fresh and eager blood waiting in the wings to replace the current generation of politicians.

So, to appease Pabling, GMA will dangle another juicy position in lieu of the Speakership. I do not know enough of the game to guess what this position might be, but for sure it’s going to be big and powerful. I’m reasonably deducing that if the Constitution is not tampered with in the next coming years, this offer could either be a Senatorial slate, or an opening to run as Vice-president. However, if I were Pabling, I would hedge my bets and make sure that the President will deliver on her promises. After all, her future as Commander-in-chief of the land still remains dark and murky, what with the new crop of Opposition senators waiting in the wings to kick her out of office. Perhaps he will demand for more concessions, like funding for Cebu, spots for the Garcia clan in the administration, and many other deals.

I believe however that Pabling made a big big mistake in taking on Joe de V. Judging from what I’ve read in the newspapers, Joe de V’s pride and territoriality has been encroached by the Honorable Gentleman from Cebu, and believe me, no one wants to be in the wrong side of Joe de Venecia. But apparently, no one told Pabling about that. Has the hubris gotten to his head? Barely one week into the national game, the Garcias, it seems, have made one very powerful enemy. I would tread carefully in the future if I were them.

Well anyway, that’s just my analysis on the matter. We still have to see what transpires ahead.

Keep close tab on this fight. It will have repercussions on the fate of Cebu.



1. Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Palace: don't destabilize emotions (!) - May 31, 2007

[…] The Magnificent Atty. Perez has his own take on the ruling coalition’s intramurals, and places his bets on Speaker de Venecia. […]

2. Post-script to “Who Speaks for this House?” « The Magnificent Atty. Perez - February 5, 2008

[…] for this House?” February 5, 2008 Posted by northwolf in 1. trackback I once wrote a blog post commenting on a former issue regarding the title of Speaker of the […]

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