Mr. Duterte’s “biggest achievement” highlighted in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23 was the return of corrupt and plunderers in power under his administration, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has said.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who holds a record of plunder and corruption, was the runaway winner in the latest power struggle to rock the administration camp.
“Bringing back the corrupt and the plunderers is Duterte’s biggest achievement in this year’s SONA,” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 348.
“Duterte was shown to be inept, kept waiting in a holding room like a bystander while Arroyo jockeyed for position, and while ousted Speaker Alvarez tried to negotiate an undeserved graceful exit,” she added, referring to the “last-minute circus” at the House of Representative before the SONA.
It may be recalled that the speech of Mr. Duterte for his SONA was delayed because a battle for House speakership between Arroyo and Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez ensued at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City.
Mrs. Arroyo stole the limelight from Duterte when she took her oath minutes before the SONA, albeit with a missing mace and a microphone audio.
The removal of Alvarez and the election of Arroyo as House Speaker, however, was only formalized after members of the House of Representatives resumed session hours after Duterte delivered his SONA.
Arroyo, the only nominee in the position, won the speakership with 184 affirmative votes, 48 against, while 12 lawmakers opted to abstain.
The former justice secretary said letting Arroyo grab the speakership, with the resultant bandwagon which includes the Marcoses, was the first order of business of the people around the President as he starts his third year in office.
“Never mind a legislative agenda that would fight poverty, spur development, and save the people from runaway inflation and rising unemployment. It is politics as usual for his administration. Meanwhile, the actual state of the nation continues its downward spiral,” she said.
The Senator from Bicol warned that Arroyo’s insatiable desire for power and plunder will yet be the end of Duterte.
“Her House coup has already shown the cracks in an alliance of shifting loyalties, and the weaknesses in the Duterte camp,” she said.
“And as everyone among their followers unites behind charter change and federalism, there is no doubt who, after Duterte, will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the new order,” she added.
Should the government succeed in amending the 1987 Constitution and push through with a federal from of government push through, Arroyo is expected to sit as the country’s Prime Minister.
Arroyo was initially arrested in November 2011 after being involved with the 2004 presidential election fraud but was later released on bail. In 2012, she was arrested anew for supposedly misusing the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
While Arroyo, a known ally of Duterte, remains scot-free, De Lima is detained on trumped-up illegal drug trade charges fabricated by the present administration, as a result of Duterte’s personal vendetta against her.