The sudden reorganization of the Senate leadership last Monday made it very clear that the legislative allies of President Rodrigo Duterte are already ditching the noble idea of maintaining a “super-majority” and instead go for a smaller majority that will really support the administration’s priorities.
Liberal Party stalwart Franklin Drilon was removed as Senate President pro-tempore, while Senators Bam Aquino, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros all lost their committee chairmanships. The said Senators were becoming more and more critical of the Duterte administration in recent months.
It can be recalled that Leila De Lima was also removed as chair of the Senate Justice Committee last September after she facilitated the testimony of Edgardo Matobato, a man who confessed to assassinating people under orders from Duterte when he was still Davao City Mayor.
Against this backdrop, let’s now discuss the threat last month of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can be stripped of her position of Deputy House Speaker because of her continued opposition to death penalty restoration.
Those who maintain big coalitions should know how to manage the interests of caucus members well. For example, there should be times when they can be allowed to vote against the party’s stand as long as the votes necessary will still be there. The mere fact that Alvarez had to threaten punitive action against those who will not support the push for death penalty means that the administration do not have the numbers.
It is very disrespectful for a former President to be subjected to this threat. But if Alvarez and company really push ahead with this plan, I don’t think Arroyo will actually give a damn about it. She has been Chief Executive for nine years, and she has won all her cases after being detained for almost five years. Why will she lose sleep over losing what is actually just a honorary title?
However, this may strain the close relationship between her and President Duterte. That’s why Alvarez should think twice before moving against her.