MA. LOURDES TIQUIA
The Manila Times
BORROWING from a certain social media on status of relationship, “it’s complicated” seems to be the relationship between Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and the Dutertes (the vice president and her father, former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte) thereby creating a schism between the unity tandem of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte. It is complicated because the decision to release funds from the president to the vice president (VP) is entirely a matter of presidential discretion and a presidential decision. The release from the president’s contingency funds to the VP’s confidential fund is based on an authority vested in his office. Clearly, a request was made and approval was granted. Between the two highest officials of the land, why would the House speaker interfere unless the release was a trap so designed to create a break in the unity? When the speaker used the legal fronts of the enemies of the state, he chose to side with the Makabayan bloc rather than wait for the AOM (audit observation memorandum) of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) from the Commission on Audit. Worse, the speaker chose both offices of the vice president — the OVP and the Department of Education (DepEd). The speaker singled out the vice president and demolished her like 2028 is tomorrow. The irony of it all was that the vice president is known to be against the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front). She remains against terrorism, and the speaker apparently supports them, getting them to do his demolition jobs. Interestingly, as Congress hides behind Concurrent Resolution 10, the Makabayan lost its “moral ascension” because they can’t even make public their funds but used accountability and transparency in pushing the vice president to reveal where her CIF (confidential and intelligence fund) was used. Scheming, right? So, when the vice president decided to give up her confidential funds in OVP and realign that of DepEd to the National Reconciliation and Development Program, the House of Representatives can’t even take the challenge to release their liquidations on their extraordinary miscellaneous expenses. Instead of accountability and transparency, the House hid behind Resolution 1414. Pure hubris! And the friends of the speaker, the Makabayan bloc, started orchestrating things from the rostrum on cases before the Supreme Court, spin on impeachment and the referral of a resolution in the International Criminal Court. This is the problem when you deal with Makabayan. They will pursue their agenda, use you and tie up the institution. But the leadership seems oblivious to these realities, promising the Makabayan bloc programmatic funds for projects they will identify. Why the speaker and the leadership of the House chose the Makabayan bloc is proof of the kind of politics they share. Good thing the speaker showed his real colors early. By operation of the Constitution, Section 8 provides, “In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of the president, the vice president shall become the president to serve the unexpired term. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of both the president and vice president, the president of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the speaker of the House of Representatives, shall then act as president until the president or vice president shall have been elected and qualified. “The Congress shall, by law, provide who shall serve as president in case of death, permanent disability or resignation of the acting president. He shall serve until the president or the vice president shall have been elected and qualified, and be subject to the same restrictions of powers and disqualifications as the acting president.” Section 9 states, “Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President during the term for which he was elected, the president shall nominate a vice president from among the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all the members of both houses of the Congress, voting separately.” The targets, made clear, are to ensure the President finishes his term until 2028, as should be; and the vice president is removed to ensure the nominee of the president assumes office. That nominee is the speaker because it is in accordance with the person who wields the baton — that individual behind the throne. Hence, there is talk of impeachment; unfortunately, there is no agreement on the script to be followed. Fortunately, the numbers are not there. One by one, the leadership of the House started denying any plans, with the speaker acknowledging what Duterte has contributed to the nation, this after removing Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Rep. Sid Ungab; raiding the PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan) and movements on the ground affecting some Malasakit Centers, satellite offices of the vice president, among others. After 17 months of this administration and a huge mandate, their objective is to remove the VP to control the midterm and 2028. How can you impeach a VP who every time the President is out, thinks of the country? You think she will move and oust PBBM? There is only one, single thread that holds unity and that is between the two of them. She works as an OIC (officer in charge). She delivers for your President. She is there in the trenches while the king is out. The Filipino voters are not stupid. They can see. They can feel. And they know who is true to one’s mandate. Always remember, “All things are subject to interpretation, whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” We plod on for the flag, always.