By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Senator Franklin Drilon, Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas, Sr. and their faction in the Liberal Party shocked the Philippines in 2006 by withdrawing support from Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and calling for her resignation in the wake of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
They were aghast that GMA, through Comelec chair Ben Abalos massively rigged the elections in 2004 that resulted to the “victory” of GMA over Fernando Poe, Jr., and majority in her Lakas-Kampi slate for the senate.
They made the announcement at Hyatt Hotel in Manila and among those at the frontline of the political mutiny were 10 cabinet officials, thus the so-called “Hyatt Ten”.
The grapevine says GMA was so taken aback that she was on the verge of stepping down had it not been for her predecessor Fidel Ramos who dissuaded her.
GMA got further boost the next day after Iloilo City mayor Jerry Trenas, president of the League of Cities in the Philippines, read a manifesto in front of TV cameras and GMA herself, declaring full support to his beleaguered president and former professor at Ateneo.
The rest is history. GMA not only successfully completed her term though how unlamented it may be, in 2010; she almost had herself perpetuated indefinitely by orchestrating “Cha-Cha” (charter change) move to revise the Constitution that included deletion of the provision banning the president of the Philippines from reelection.
That singular act of Trenas, now member of the Lower House of Congress, might have pleased the Arroyos but it disappointed Drilon who until today continues to give the impression that he won’t even touch the former with a 10-feet pole.
This may be pure gossip but report reaching yours truly says that the senator mistrusts the congressman and that mistrust grows as elections 2013 looms and the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) is calendared this October.
During a gathering cum-gift-giving activity last December organized by Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, tarpaulin streamers on the stage showed only the faces of Drilon and Mabilog. Photographer Boyet Octavio who showed me his shots of the event, wondered loudly why Trenas’s cute face was missing both in the tarpaulins and on the seats of the stage as well. He was not even invited to grace the gathering, Octavio added.
Mabilog later explained that it was just faux pas or inadvertence. He insists again and again today that the Trenas-Mabilog alliance remains solid and any “tsismis” on their imminent break-up are yarns spun by political enemies like former justice secretary Raul Gonzalez, former LWUA administrator Larry Jamora and publisher Rommel Ynion who are the beneficiaries, if that happened.
However, the grapevine is rife with stories that the absence of Trenas on stage and in streamers was intentional as it was meant to be a stern message from Drilon that he wants Trenas to content himself with his current seat in the Lower House and not even think about rocking the boat by colliding with Mabilog for mayor in 2012.
Trenas is silent these days, however. Whether he intends to run for reelection or challenge Mabilog for the mayoralty come 2013 is anybody’s guess. He avoids the limelight and the media which is uncanny of him. He has adopted a paradoxical publicity strategy; his mysterious silence is prompting people to wag their tongues about him. In short, he remains at the center of popular discourse without firing a single word.
Contrast that to Mabilog, Drilon’s distant nephew, who does not hesitate to speak on distant matters like the prospect of the “open sky” policy on the Iloilo Airport which is in Cabatuan town, 28 kilometers from Iloilo City and definitely beyond his turf.
(Open sky, fancies Mabilog, means more tourists flocking to Iloilo City because the airport would cater to international flights, thus, the economic boom. He should listen to Lucio Tan of the infamous PAL fame. Tan opposes open sky policy because that allows a foreign airline to compete in Philippine domestic routes without mutual opportunity for Philippine companies to ply the domestic routes of the foreign airline’s home country. Open sky has nothing to do with the Iloilo airport opened to international flights. Tan blames it for the downturn of his Philippine Air Lines).