1. THE Villafuerte telenovela
PUT IT 1-0 in favor of LRay.
Yesterday morning, a battle of press conferences marked the first salvo in the war for the hearts and minds of the electorate, simulcast in leading radio stations in Naga.
I did not see the bizarre father-and-son conflict make it into national TV the other night, for the entire nation to see, when deadline for filing of candidacies for local posts came. But snippets of the younger Villafuerte's press con I heard, and his father's riposte a few minutes later.
Luis, Jr. spilled the guts on why he defied his father's wishes, naming names and events that otherwise were only being whispered hereabouts -- a powerful paramour who tried to continue controlling Capitol even when he already assumed office, and shenanigans involving his father's loyalists and inherited staff (whom he fired).
It conveyed the image of an offended son who had to make the tough decisions in trying to set things right, which is what he thought his father asked of him when he left his multimillion-peso export business to continue their family's legacy of public service.
These revelations clearly jarred the putative House Speaker of the next Philippine Congress. In his own presscon, I never thought that Rep. Luis Villafuerte is capable of speaking in a meek, even hushed, voice but -- voilà! -- he did. In this emerging theatre of the absurd, it was all too surreal! That alone demonstrated that his junior had the upperhand.
But the undertones notwithstanding, Luis the father still spewed venoms at his son's direction, accusing him becoming a wayward child who needs to be disciplined, of being corrupted by power (I thought the Ring had been long destroyed by the fires of Mordor, but it seems to have reappeared in the land of Isarog), of running amok with the Capitol's finances, and of engaging in grand corruption that is more than sufficient to cause his downfall.
The situation has clearly degenerated into the pot-calling-the-kettle-back kind of thing; the elder Villafuerte's problem is, his son's revelations have the ring of truth, which is critical in the 45-day mind games ahead of us; and worse, the LRay kettle's teflon-like shiny sheen is keeping the allegations from sticking.
2. The House of Fuentebella
After these all happened, the political leaders of 3rd district Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, the first Bikolano House Speaker and the last during the Erap regime, gathered together in their house in Barangay Abella to proclaim the family's local candidates in Partido, which is how the district is more popularly known.
Fuentebella's speech was mostly broadcast live over my favorite station, RMN-DWNX, which only affirmed where its loyalties lay all along. But I think the most important, unstated message is that of differentiation: that while the House of Villafuerte, their biggest political rival, is being consumed by fire, the House of Fuentebella has remained strong, "a model we are offering for others to consider," in Noli's own words.
This year, the family is celebrating its own centennial, dating back to 1907 when Jose Fuentebella, who later would become a representative to the Philippine Legislature, senator of the republic and ambassador to Indonesia, joined politics and entered public service. It is widely expected that it will back LRay's reelection bid against former Tourism Secretary and Postmaster General Eduardo Pilapil -- who beat the Fuentebellas in 1987 and is now being fielded by Luis the father against his son.
3. Leni Robredo
Reelectionist Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo has managed to convince his wife Leni to file her own certificate of candidacy as mayor at the last minute, his insurance just in case the reported disqualification effort being cooked up by political rivals against him -- in the deepest bowels of Comelec central office in Intramuros -- prospers. The usual complaint by the usual suspects is his alleged Chinese citizenship.
If given due course, this absurdity will surely rival the unfolding telenovela of his kins. And the odds are that it just might -- notwithstanding the fact that Robredo has served Naga for five terms already, racking up local, national and international recognitions for the city and the country in the process, foremost of them the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service.
Well, you really can never tell, with a Comelec that took its own sweet time before finally declaring Joselito "Juju" Cayetano as a nuisance senatorial candidate; that refuses to reveal who are the individuals running by way of the party list route, because it will expose the dirty Malacañang connection to all and sundry; and that junked Ateneo professor Danton Remoto and his Ladlad partylist group while giving due course to the senatorial bid of an obvious fake and his phony political party. And of course, with Raul Gonzales as secretary of (in)justice.
The sweet irony that might come out of this is it might just accelerate the fulfillment of their political rivals' deepest fears: of Robredo eventually fielding Leni when he is again term-limited in 2010. (Although I think they're way too decent to take this route; why does the word "differentiation" come to mind over and over again?)
The other day, James Adams, the World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, visited Naga together with country representative Joachim von Amsberg and other high ranking bank officials. I have a feeling the bank, not to mention other international development institutions, will only be too willing to take in a suddenly jobless Jesse Robredo and put him alongside former La Paz, Bolivia mayor Ronald MacLean-Abaroa in the World Bank Institute.
31 March 2007
1. THE Villafuerte telenovela