By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
What the media expected was a little hell-raising at the confirmation of newly-appointed Interior secretary Mar Roxas and his replacement at the transportation department, Sec. Jose Emilio Abaya.
Yet that fizzled out as quickly as it came up.
Sen. Miriam Santiago raised her hand when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked if there were any objections to Roxas’ confirmation.
Santiago later told reporters it was merely palabra de honor. She wanted to “wake up Malacañang” and had threatened to veto Cabinet members who failed to attend her investigation of interior undersecretary Rico Puno.
But after a quick break that followed her statement, Santiago withdrew her objection–to applause. Clapping is prohibited at the Senate plenary, but no one bothered then.
Roxas, a former senator, was a close colleague of Santiago’s (“Even his wife [Korina Sanchez] is very close to me,” she added). She didn’t want someone “needed in public service” to end up as “collateral damage” in a battle of hers.
Objection was futile anyway, Santiago said, since President Aquino could issue an ad interim appointment on September 22 if the Senate goes on break without confirming Roxas.
All’s well that ends well, and Abaya got confirmed as well.
But as the Senate reporters settled down to file their Roxas-Santiago stories, it turned out that wasn’t the last controversy of the day.
Our technical crew got a call that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV would deliver a privilege speech at the plenary session. ANC planned to air it live.
The newsrooms had already been watching out for Trillanes. He was banner story in the Inquirer that day for holding backdoor negotiations with China on its territorial dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal. When ANC called him about it, he confirmed it.
So after Trillanes’ office put out word of his speech, the best guess was something about China.
Instead, he began with a familiar line that wasn’t his: “Gusto ko happy ka (I want you to be happy)”, the Senate President’s campaign slogan.
The real deal, Trillanes said, was “Kung gusto ko, isasagasa ko. Kung ayaw ko, uupuan ko. (If I want it, I’ll rush it. If I don’t, I’ll delay it).”