POSTSCRIPT / June 9, 2019 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Just ask Du30 who should be Speaker

TO SIMPLIFY and cut down the heavy spending and injurious jostling in the race for Speaker of the House Representatives, why don’t they just ask the Dutertes their choice for the No. 4 official of the land?

From the stands, we see four figures looming large, listed here alphabetically: Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte), Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros), Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte) and Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque).

The wise bettor does not rely on what the aspirants claim are their chances, or what their colleagues in the chamber say. Then Speaker Ramon V. Mitra cautioned that it was difficult to divine the intentions of over a hundred (now 297) congressmen driven by their respective ambitions.

The best rule probably is to keep one’s ear close to the ground to hear the rumblings from Malacañang and Davao City, the epicenters of political power in these parts.

A week ago, ex-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was quoted as saying the race is nothing but “a money contest” — a reminder that millions move mountains in the House. This is not to mention the extra millions for the molehills that are the committee chairmanships and other perks.

Velasco, the gentleman from Marinduque, said he would be a “consensus builder” should he be elected Speaker. Consensus? Former foreign secretary and now congressman Cayetano talks of “unity,” boasting of the backing of the so-called National Unity Party.

Lord Allan is the son of the former Supreme Court justice “Presby” who is the incoming Marinduque governor. He made quite a splash before the Congress adjourned for the May elections when he reportedly gave congressmen cellphones and San Miguel loot bags.

Smart phones and such gifts are minor showers compared to the thunderstorm of cash and committee chairmanships that stir up the political weather in the chamber, regardless of how President Duterte and his daughter Inday Sara pull the power strings.

With the House generally functioning as an annex of Malacañang, the Speaker will eventually be whoever the President anoints – hopefully this time with less drama than the July 23 coup last year when Mayor Inday Sara pulled down Alvarez and installed Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

That interesting blitzkrieg that delayed the opening of the 17th Congress tells us that unless Alvarez has succeeded in smoothing out his differences with the assertive mayor, he may count his bouncing back as Speaker as a lost cause.

If the past is a guide for the present, we think Cayetano, who ran for vice president in 2016 and lost despite Duterte’s pulling power, should not be too optimistic of winning the President’s endorsement. (Bongbong Marcos was reportedly Duterte’s original choice as running mate.)

Even his lackluster performance as foreign secretary paled in comparison with that of the career diplomat Enrique Manalo whom he succeeded, or that of his successor Teddy Locsin Jr., whatever one may think of his Trump-like tweeting.

Galloping from the outside, meanwhile, is the congressman from Leyte, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, now considered a dark horse who may yet give the others a run for their war chests.

We value the opinion of Albay’s veteran congressman Joey Salceda, so we listen when he says that Romualdez – yes, the son of the fair-haired Kokoy Romualdez, the brother of the Imeldific superma’am – would make a good Speaker.

We won’t be surprised if Romualdez wins the support of Visayan congressmen as well as the Marcos loyalists from Ilocandia who now appear, under a grateful Duterte regime, to be maneuvering to recapture their preeminence before the 1986 EDSA Revolt.

 Pope rewords last line of Lord’s Prayer

POPE Francis has reworded a line toward the end of the Lord’s Prayer — “lead us not into temptation” to read “do not let us fall into temptation” — that some 2.2 billion Christians worldwide recite ceaselessly.

The reason he gave was that the line “lead us not into temptation,” said to be a mistranslation from the original, may imply that God himself pushes men into sin when in fact it is Satan (for those who believe there is a devil).

What this abject sinner thinks may be irrelevant, and probably irreverent, but I see no urgent need to reword the Our Father. Never for a moment have I blamed God for the many temptations thrown my crooked way now and then.

We can continue praying the Pater Noster as it has been taught to us by Christ when asked how we should pray to the Father. Although the prayer has undergone some verbal changes, the spirit that animates it has remained unchanged

I have noticed they still say “forgive us our trespasses” in some churches in the United States (or “debts” in some places in Europe), unlike us Filipinos who acknowledge our transgressions simply as “sins” (sometimes also sung as “pagkakautang” or debts!).

Our saying “Et ne nos inducas in tentationem” when we served in the Latin Mass of our youth in Diliman never made us suspect that God has been the one “inducing” us to sin.

One problem in revising long-standing universal prayers is that with evolving mores and usage in language, we may have to continually change the way we pray or talk to an UNCHANGING God.

But when from the throne of Peter, Pope Francis says let us make our prayers clearer (clearer to our fellowmen actually, not to God who understands our innermost thoughts and yearnings), we respond Amen!

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 9, 2019)

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