OPINION: Mr. Speaker, you are shameless

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Feb 10 2017 03:22 AM

There is no longer any doubt that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, one named Pantaleon D. Alvarez, (congressman from the 1st District of Davao del Norte, alias "Bebot") is the largest and most potent contributor to the demise of respect for the lower House. 

Is it because of the perception that he is the veritable pimp of a virtual political brothel? He is already the uncontested walking-talking epitome of toadyism, an incomparable sycophant to an ill-elected President.

Let us never forget (and he must consistently be reminded) that he, Mr. Duterte, is a minority President. 60.9% of the electorate did not vote for him. Minority does not translate into a people’s mandate, all by itself. 

Unbelievable, indeed. To civil and decent society, Alvarez’s conscious and intentional posture of utter subservience is evidently the only way he gets to keep his job and preserve the utility he provides Duterte. 

Alvarez has never been known for any previous sterling performance in public service. On the contrary, the country has never had a Speaker of the House who is on record to have been previously indicted for graft before the Sandiganbayan. 

Essentially, the case was a conflict-of-interest overprice of some P79 million, a subcontract under the notoriously corrupt imbroglio that attended the construction of Manila’s Air Terminal 3. 30% plus ownership of the subcontracting company was in his wife’s name. After a five-year "judicial hiatus," the charge was dismissed for "lack of evidence."

No other Speaker in the history of Philippine Congressional politics, by his shameless slavish servility to the “Executive,” has so eroded and desecrated the very philosophical foundation of “checks and balances,” once a mighty anchor of democracy in the Philippines. [And who, in the Senate, might I ask, salivates at the prospects of emulating Alvarez? Folks, the fair guessing game is yours to enjoy!]

The Duterte-Alvarez relationship is reminiscent of a Marcos-Ver joke: “Jump out of the window, Fabian!” “From what floor, Sir?”

Who was Ver, without Marcos. Who is Alvarez, without Duterte? 

The rants

President Duterte rants at the Catholic Church: “You’re full of s***!” And seizing an opportune cue, Alvarez perorates, as if to further enhance his credentials with his master: “…the Catholic Church has no moral ascendancy to judge what is right and wrong.” 

And he called the bishops a bunch of “shameless hypocrites.” Publicity-wise, news story-wise Alvarez must have misguidedly enjoyed the fleeting heady headline attention. But one must wonder if the Speaker is ever impervious to public sentiment which was unequivocally expressed in almost instantaneous anger, a verbal lynching!

The eloquent people’s reaction in legitimate social media, however, is distinct indication that there is indeed hope for the resurgence of umbrage and even outrage, a departure from bothersome docility, among our electorate's vast majority. Anger was indeed stoked. Maybe patient muteness is coming to a break! Soon, I pray. 

There was immediate and universal condemnation of the Speaker such as I have never witnessed heaped upon a politician before. The onslaught of righteous invectives in cyberspace is now on record as torrential. 

The Catholic Church in self-defense

Why have we come to this juncture in the county’s deteriorating political discourse? 

The Church, hurting, has lost her patience, no longer tolerates and endures being Duterte's punching bag. At last, the Catholic Church---long the target of President Duterte’s repeated demonic tirades and serial calumny, has finally spoken. Many view this rather delayed reaction as finally fighting back. Hallelujah! Indeed, a welcome event. Presidential bullying is getting a push back. 

Through the collective voice of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), a pastoral letter was read during services nationwide on February 5, kicking off with Saturday evening masses. The message was succinct, its target precise. 

The Church denounced the outright killing of drug suspects, (7,000 plus in 7 months and counting) the indelible trademark of the Duterte reign of Presidential terror, (aka extra-judicial killings). The Church called it “evil.” Such evil, a universal reality, only the satanic dare deny. The pastoral letter, coincidentally, followed the release by Amnesty International of their own documented findings. 

Not too long ago, Speaker Alvarez, principal proponent of reinstituting the death penalty, in an insanely amoral and threatening statement, made light of the death penalty’s alternative. Failing to pass the death penalty legislation, he says, leaves as the only alternative the continuation of extra judicial killings!

There really is much to remember about Pantaleon Alvarez. He is the principal proponent of bringing down the age of criminal culpability to 9 years old. Let me put it more emphatically. Under Duterte’s reign of terror, children without discernment, without psychological maturity, will be charged for crimes. Of this monstrosity, Alvarez is Duterte’s "pusher," the ultimate legislative tool for the President’s promised “change.” 

By the way, one wonders if Alvarez is still advocating for the secession of all of Mindanao from the archipelagic Republic of the Philippines. He was an ardent advocate of such treasonous intent.

Pathos for Pantaleon

Was it Mark or was it Matthew? No matter really, but the message is truly apt. “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul.”

I sincerely commiserate with Speaker Alvarez and his family. A legacy of sordid reputation his beloved do not deserve. Pantaleon, a kindly looking face with an almost shy smile, like most fathers and family men, must be in possession of some socially redeeming aspects of character than can still redeem himself from his prevailing political persona. Conscience is the foundation for contrition.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.