By Herbert Vego
NEXT to the President, the most powerful man in Malacañang is the Executive Secretary. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
Right now, the image caught by my viewfinder is that of Pres. Ferdinand “BBM” Marcos and Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio wrecking each other discreetly through their common “friends”.
It is no secret that the top and tough guys in the Cabinet and the government agencies are a not-so-merry mix of each other’s supporters.
The forced resignation of Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez and the appointment of former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin to the vacated position could have been instigated by people closer to former President Rodrigo Duterte than to BBM. Among them are presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile and broadcaster/vlogger Antonio “Tunying” Taverna.
I leave it to you readers to research on how these two had pilloried Rodriguez in the media. Suffice it to say that Rodriguez had been under terrible pressure due to rumors linking him to “selling” cabinet positions and importation of sugar on the strength of President Marcos’ forged signature.
Marcos, sensing that Rodriguez would not pass the grilling of the Commission on Appointments in, had to let go of him with a broken heart. He had been his loyal lawyer since 2016 when he lodged an election protest against then Vice President Leni Robredo but to no avail.
Could Enrile have recommended Bersamin for the post of “little President”? That is how the executive secretary is fondly known; he wields the power to assist the President in the management of the government, and to direct the operations of the Executive Office.
Enrile, now 98, owes a debt of gratitude to Lucas Bersamin. As an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 2015, Bersamin penned the decision granting former Senator Enrile temporary liberty due to “poor health in old ”after posting bail on his plunder and graft conviction over the celebrated Napoles pork barrel scam.
Both Enrile and Taverna had shown fawning “loyalty” to Sara’s dad Digong during his 6-year incumbency as president. The former president had never verbally endorsed BBM as his daughter’s standard-bearer. On the contrary, he had described him as a “weak leader”.
The political alliance of the Dutertes and the Marcoses could not go on until 2028 because these political dynasties intend to prevail. Sara would naturally want to run for the presidency in 2028 when BBM would not be legally qualified for re-election.
However, another rumor is that the Marcos boys in the Senate and the House are behind the ongoing idea to revise the constitution aimed at abolishing the term limits of elective officials.
But Sara’s bigger problem could come in the form of a “fallout” from the forthcoming investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against his father for “crimes against humanity” — including extra-judicial killings — in the implementation of his “war against drugs”. If convicted, according to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, Rodrigo Duterte could face 30 years in jail.
The “war” had claimed 6,229 lives, based on the records of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Incidentally, we saw Bato on TV smiling sourly yesterday – “mukhasim?” – while commenting, “Wala ako nakikita dyan. Walang patutunguhan yan. “
Will Matubato and Lascañas – I bet you know them already – testify?
The heat is on.
ROGER WONDERS ABOUT ANTECO
WHY has the Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO) earned that “distinction” of being the distributor of the most expensive electricity in Panay at P16.19 per kilowatt hour? Why can’t it simply raise moderately?
Other electric cooperatives in the island and MORE Power have also hiked prices due to inflation of the peso against the US dollar and the Ukraine-Korean war, but not as much as ANTECO.
In Iloilo, ILECO 1 charges P13.46; ILECO 2, P14.90; ILECO 3 P14.61; and MORE Power, P12.48.
AKELCO in Aklan charges, P15.11; and CAPELCO in Capiz, P14.60.
As published in this paper yesterday, it appears that out of the P16.17 per kilowatt hour (kWh) that consumers pay, ANTECO’s share as distributor is only P2.07. Therefore, the bulk of charges passing through the bill would go to generating utilities like, in the case of ANTECO, Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC), which provides 70.59 percent of its requirements, and GN Power Mariveles, which provides 10.86 percent.
In his radio program the other night in San Jose, Antique, broadcaster Roger Tamon wondered, “Why is it that so when local coal is mined at Semirara island in Caluya, Antique?”
Semirara follows the world market pricing. But since it is owned by the heirs of the late billionaire David Consunji, why could it not be patriotic and sell coal to local generating utilities at reduced cost?
Greed, unfortunately, knows no boundary.