Monday, September 14, 2009

"Genuine Opposition"

There is Manuel B. Villar, Jr., who started his political career as congressman of the lone district of Las Pinas, when his wife’s family alternatingly held the mayorship. That was in 1992, running as Monching Mitra’s LDP candidate. After FVR won, Villar turned to Lakas. In 1995, Angara’s LDP was suborned by Lakas, the banner Villar used in his first re-election, which he won handily. In 1998, he ran under Lakas, the flag of Jose de Venecia, who lost miserably to Lammp coalition’s Erap. As soon as night became day, hounded by the Asian recession that hit his fortunes badly, Villar led 49 other Lakas stalwarts and swore to Erap’s high haven in Greenhills. Through a hefty transaction, he became “speaker” by grace of Erap, who disgraced word of commitment to Joker Arroyo. In November of 2000, he promptly cut the niceties of committee hearings and floor debates, and by stroke of nimble double-cross, sent the impeachment complaint with the requisite endorsers to the Senate for trial.

Having been one of the principal sponsors of Gloria’s ascent to the presidency, he was amply rewarded with a slot in her People Power Coalition for the senatorial elections of 2001. He won, and served a full first term, getting the supra-powerful Finance Committee with influence over the budget, and later, through a term-sharing deal, Senate President after Franklin Drilon. In 2004, he fully supported his Gloria’s election. Right after, he “bought” the franchise to the Nacionalista Party name, hollowed out of members its history had. In 2005, when the revelations of Hello Garci ripped wide open the underbelly of a massive cheating conspiracy against the people, he kept his mouth shut. Franklin Drilon did not, and joined others in asking for Gloria’s resignation. Not Manny Villar. Thus did he retain the senate presidency until re-election time in 2007. But because the fall-out over Hello Garci extended till 2007, with his president burdened by abysmally low trust and approval ratings, Manny Villar thought it was time to switch…again.

And a motley band of oppositionists who wanted a shut-out, never mind defining principles or issues, welcomed him with open arms, with Erap mismo negotiating still another transaction with Villar. He was supposed to bring in other “sure” winners, Ralph Recto, Joker Arroyo, and Francis Pangilinan. The first two also deserted Erap in the critical days of 2000, while the last was never for Erap. The first two opted to still bed with Gloria; Francis ran as an independent. At the start of the campaign, Villar also styled himself as an “independent”, as if testing the waters. That was fine with Erap, for what curious reasons I have yet to fathom. When the so-called “Genuine Opposition” won handily, oh, Villar was now considered a born-again “oppositionist”. By the imprimatur of Erap, and the nihil obstat of Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, and of course, Jinggoy Estrada who got the lofty sinecure of pro-tempore. There went the “genuine opposition”. Even usually critical and perceptive media glossed over this, and sang the hossanas for Manny Villar, once more the Senate President, and soon, the “president” of their dreams … and wallets.

So, from LDP (1992) to Lakas (1995), to Erap’s Lammp (1998) to Gloria’s PPC (2001), to Nacionalista in support of Gloria (2004), to Nacionalista as part of an “opposition” coalition in 2007, to Nacionalista, with questionable allegiances at present. That is the adroit and nimble political odyssey of Manuel B. Villar Jr., much like a hopping kangaroo, the man who would be president of the benighted land.