GMA’s second ascent

Photo from ABS-CBN

Gloria Arroyo – in a red- orange dress taking control of the situation at the Batasan Session Hall last Monday – was a personification of what German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

It is shuddering to imagine what a re-invigorated GMA can and will do.

She stayed in Malacañang for ten years with a dubious mandate. A vice president in 2001, she grabbed power from then President Joseph Estrada by installing herself to the presidency that was not declared vacant. She cheated, using the Commission on Elections and the military, in the 2004 elections.

In the unforgettable words of Susan Roces, the widow of her victim, Fernando Poe, Jr: “… you have stolen the presidency, not once, but twice.”

Minutes before President Duterte arrived at the Batasang Pambansa last Monday to deliver his third State of the Nation Address, Pampanga representative Arroyo put into action the operation to oust the House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Detained for electoral sabotage and plunder during the administration of her successor, Benigno Aquino III, Arroyo is now the 21st speaker of the House and the first woman to hold the post. She is in a vantage position to become prime minister, if and when her proposal, filed in 2010 for Charter Change pushes through.

Arroyo ascending to the position of Speaker of the House is not exactly a surprise. It has been talked about since she became a member of the House of Representatives in 2010 and became louder under the Duterte administration.

Alvarez had always known of Arroyo’s interest in his position and had marked her as a threat. Crass and vulgar, Alvarez was no match to the cunning Arroyo.

Quietly, Arroyo was able to cobble together a formidable anti-Alvarez coalition composed of three presidential daughters who are political leaders in their respective areas– Arroyo herself, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos, daughter of Ferdinand Marcos.

They were joined by Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., and Alvarez’ wife, Emelita Apostol Alvarez.

On the side of Alvarez, he only hadIlocos Norte (1st district) Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, who is feuding with with Imee Marcos over Ilocos politics.

Alvarez’ war with Duterte-Carpio and Floirendo stemmed from Davao politics as well as extra-marital affairs. Sara is reportedly close to Alvarez wife, Emelita, whom the former Speaker abandoned for his girlfriend, Jennifer Vicencio.

Sara’s friendship with Emelita didn’t sit well with Alvarez, who reportedly made hostile remarks when Sara formed a regional political party.

Alvarez’ feud with Floirendo, Duterte’s top election contributor, is a spill-over of the quarrel of their respective girlfriends.It’s a stuff for tabloids.

There were talks that Emelita was going to run against Alvarez in the next election.

Alvarez knew that with Duterte-Carpio, Floirendo, and his wife against him politically, his chances of re-election is nil. That’s the reason why he was floating the idea of “No election” in 2019.

What happened last Monday was only the start of Arroyo’s second ascent to power. Surely, with her at the helm down there at the Batasan, the House of Representative will be friendly to Duterte. But how friendly?

It is not expected to be as subservient to Malacañang as Alvarez’s Congress. There have been Duterte policies that Arroyo did not support. One is the restoration of the death penalty.

Arroyo and Duterte have their own separate cronies. The loot is never large enough for greedy thieves. Conflicting or overlapping interests would need intervention from the highest level.

Unlike Alvarez, Arroyo is an astute politician – determined and calculating. She has her own agenda and it may not be the same as Duterte’s.