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Deposing a Speaker
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on February 4, 2008 200 Comments 8 min read
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DSC00034Update 2:17 pm: House showdown deferred. Talk is rife, however, that it might push through anyway, but without media coverage. Rep. Matias Defensor says the ruling coalition prefers a secret caucus in committee rooms, where congressmen will indicate where they stand should there be a division of the House; and that when the winner is known, they will then return to the Session Hall to formalize their choice, without having to engage in debate.

Quite a high-wire act. Until this morning, the deposing of the Speaker had an aura of inevitability not to mention, invincibility. A delay of 24 hours can give the de Venecia camp a second wind. Conversely, it can give the Palace more time to consolidate its forces. Defensor says, though, that their objective is to settle the leadership question by tomorrow at the latest. The primary consideration (see below) might actually be: can JDV muster the eighty-odd votes required, not to save his position, but to transmit the impeachment complaint to the Senate?

Sergio Apostol says the Palace is dangling appointment as ambassador to Washington or Secretary of Foreign Affairs to de Venecia (confirming previous scuttlebutt).

Rufus Rodriguez says if Nograles has the votes, they’ll join the bandwagon.


Over the weekend, there was posturing a-plenty: De Venecia, Nograles camps both say they have the votes. The best the Speaker could do was along the lines of JDV says he’s receiving many offers to join opposition.

He reportedly consulted former President Estrada who summoned an opposition meeting Sunday lunchtime. But that was worth a handful of votes at best. On the other hand, the leading Palace candidate for the speakership, Rep. Nograles, didn’t bother to show up at the Lakas leaders’ Palace golf-game.

Prior to that, he’d telegraphed that the Liberal Party and a big chunk of congressional neophytes had signed on to topple de Venecia.

The President, for her part, played alternately coy and helpless: Arroyo won’t stop sons on JDV ouster.

In its Sunday editorial, The son also rises, the Inquirer said that the apparent rebelliousness of the President’s sons was all an act.

Besides what the editorial pointed out, Mon Casiple in his blog entry Between two families traces the sore spots between the Speaker and the President:

The two protagonists–President Macapagal-Arroyo and JDV–have been dueling through proxies for some months now since the president broke her promise to step down in one year’s time from July 2005. The current stage started when the ZTE scandal broke out last year, involving JDV’s own son, Joey de Venecia. In December 2006, JDV was nearly unseated when his co-savior, Fidel Ramos, insisted on the supposed agreement in July 2005. He did a judo trick, going along with the Malacañang charter change agenda. In the process, FVR got elbowed out and was humiliated at the Lakas coalition showdown. However, the president’s men did not forget JDV’s “unreliability” and ambition for the top post. Their discontent fed into KAMPI’s own simmering grievance over its being sidelined for a long, long time from the speakership post, despite it being acknowledged as the president’s own party. Over time, the presidential (and JDV’s) argument for maintaining the rainbow coalition got fewer and fewer audience among them. Things got into a head in the last 2007 elections. The JDV camp found itself fighting for survival–not for speakership–but even for membership in the House. JDV got into a real fight with Dagupan mayor Benjie Lim for the Pangasinan’s 4th congressional seat. It was bruited later that the principal backers behind Lim included the First Gentleman and KAMPI. JDV won the fight (with FVR support) and later defended his speakership by invoking the continuity of the limping coalition. However, by that time, the trust between the coalition partners had all but disappeared. Malacañang concentrated in its hand all the pork barrel (and IRA) disbursements.

Back to Casiple: he ended his piece by saying further developments would be suggested by the results of the Palace golf game yesterday morning.

But as it turned out, Arroyo snubs Lakas golf game (this morning’s Inquirer editorial objects to the choice of gold, and the choices the various groups such as the Liberals have made, to go along with the Palace-led ouster of de Venecia). However, one source, quoting a conversation with Dato Arroyo on Saturday, said of the so-called snub,

ala raw golf chuchu much les wid tabalko talaga sa sked ng nanay nya. Napapirma raw nya rachel arenas ysday. 140 na but targeting 20 to 40 more.

And so, instead of a Sunday meeting, the Speaker was told he should go to the Palace on Monday, either at 10 or 11 am. That gave the Palace time to round up the “20 or 40 more,” which refers to pledges to vote against the Speaker (see Pals, foes switch to battle mode as JDV fate hangs). The Monday meeting, held at the Palace Park, was expected to take all morning.

Casiple also said that the escalating fight between de Venecia and Arroyo carries with it the risk of tearing apart the ruling coalition. This is something I tackle in my column, Aliens versus Predators.

News like this –Eastern Samar Gov. Evardone quits Lakas party– is a sign of things to come:

“I can better serve my constituents if I join other political parties … I want to join a political party that I think is close to President Arroyo’s heart,” explained Evardone, who is spokesperson for the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, a group of local government executives. “Where the President is, I will be there,” he said.

Lakas has to consider if it will keep an increasingly decorative speakership.

As for de Venecia himself, Conrado de Quiros zeroes in on the problem: those still loyal to the President view him as disloyal and dangerous; those opposed to the administration can’t forgive him for killing two impeachments and giving the President a new lease on political life in 2005. An interesting tactical point comes from Joel Rocamora, as quoted in UNTV: impeachment might suddenly get a new lease on life.

The Speaker made a choice in July 2005, gambling on achieving parliamentary government by giving the President a chance to survive. FVR gambled on the same thing. The President eliminated FVR as a power in Lakas and then proceeded to cultivate the Speaker to kill impeachment efforts. The President rewarded them by using the resources of her office to try to kill Lakas. When the Speaker’s son decided to spill the beans later rather than sooner, the Speaker agonized over it and tried to save himself even if it meant he had to distance himself from the son who was trying to do the right thing, for whatever reason.

Leadership requires numbers but it also requires showing true grit; this is how politicians become statesmen. The Speaker has had repeated opportunities to finally choose the path of statesmanship but chose the low road each and every time. The simple lesson here is that if anyone is going to be held accountable for anything, it’s not the President or her family; it will be allies who, once they show some independence of mind, will be crushed.

In the blogosphere, The Lonely Vampire Chronicles compiles relevant headlines; smoke has a bone to pick with the opposition concerning the speakership fight; and Uniffors advises congressmen to take the money -and squeal. The Equalizer points to Rep. Mikey Arroyo saying it’s all about ZTE. Brain Cell Exercises puts it well:

This recent skirmish in the House of Representatives only goes to show several things: first, that when blood relatives squeal on Malacañang, one should be ready for the death of his/her political dynasty. Second, that there are no permanent allies in politics — only permanent interests. I believe that Nograles and his allies do have the numbers to finally topple JDV. But considering this man’s trapo nature, it’s just going to be another case of one set of rascals being replaced by another set of rascals. Let’s just see how much of a Malacañang lapdog he’s going to be. If the issue on charter change gets revived for the nth time in the House of Representatives under Nograles’ term as Speaker, then my theory is proven: that Nograles has been bestowed with the all-mighty Malacañang shield of power.

Pinoy x-sa KSA points out,

If you are a father, you know very well that you cannot control your sons and daughters. If you are a son or daughter, you know you cannot be controlled, 100%, at all, by your parents. For me, it was important that JDV III exposed the NBN deal.


And Ricelander’s Blog reflects on unbridgeable opinions.

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  1. JDV is already dead. he just doesn’t know it yet.

    even if he turns tattle-tale, the public will not give him a moment of its time. the public is too fatigued for another stab at unseating arroyo. everyone is waiting for 2010. and besides, public opinion is high that JDV is just getting what he deserves. everyone’s relishing this moment of revenge. as if the public had anything to do with this at all. but the public will still relish JDV’s defeat, no matter what. for his part in killing all impeachment attempts agst GMA, everyone is just telling him: buti nga sayo!

    but the public is making the same mistake JDV did when he opted to wait and see instead of initiating the 1st strike during that ZTE-NBN controversy. JDV had that chance to strike 1st and strike hard, but chose to play possum.

    by waiting for 2010, the public is waiting for the war to be brought to them, which almost always assures a loss. initiative is everything in war.

    be a fiddler or be a mouse?

  2. When JDV is gone, Gloria becomes more powerful. Who else can give her a good fight?

    What’s really troubling (at least to me) though is the dearth of new leaders who inspire our imagination.

  3. The difference between GMA and all others before her is she knows when to swing and when not to swing and so far she can’t just miss…or the referee just playing blind?

  4. Don’t look now, speakership was declared vacant! Is it going to hold, meaning that JDV as speaker is gone? Very interesting development!

  5. Napapanahon!

    Imagine its 1986 today instead of 2008. Same time of the year – February.

    Will the 2008 JDV be the equivalent of the 1986 JPE? Will JDV say something along the lines of “Madame President your time is up”?

    JDV may be known to be fiercely loyal, but he is still the quintessential trapo. it won’t be surprising if he crossed over.

    Now it gets interesting – would the opposition get more credibility with JDV around? He has the keys to the ‘chamber of secrets’!

  6. Opposition + JDV = Credibility? How illogical can one get? I think it’s JDV whose time is up. Gloria’s end will come in time.

  7. My forecast: JdV goes down, Lakas is abolished/fully swallowed up/marginalized by Kampi. Now in total control of House, Kampi revives Chacha middle of 2008.

  8. we love maid miriam for adding to the theatre:

    ““This is poetic justice. The law of karma is operating here. The lords of karma have seen to it that Filipino politicians take to heart the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you have others do unto you,’” Miriam Santiago said.

    Santiago noted that De Venecia washed his hands off his son’s testimony before the Senate. So the President, she said, could not be faulted for also saying she couldn’t control her sons’ oust-De Venecia moves.

    The senator suggested that the President appoint De Venecia ambassador to Iran, Iraq, or Indonesia — all Muslim countries — as he was an advocate of the inter-faith dialogue approach to solving the conflicts in the world.”

  9. Former Speaker Joe De Venecia’s Sad Poem:

    “There Was Nobody Left…”

    When they came for the communists and the so-called leftists, I turned away
    When they came for the human rights activists and the radicals and the street protesters, I turned away
    When they came for the political opposition in 2004, and the critical civic society groups, and the utopians, and the independent thinkers, I turned away
    And when they came for me, I turned around and around, and there was nobody left…

  10. If you are a father, you know very well that you cannot control your sons and daughters. If you are a son or daughter, you know you cannot be controlled, 100%, at all, by your parents.

    so jdv cannot blame gloria for his ouster. well, let the infighting continue. matira matibay ika nga. better if they all go down. nobody will shed a tear.

  11. better if they all go down. nobody will shed a tear.

    Not even some Crocodile Tears? Lot of bodies there grd. Crocodiles need to shed those tears in the process of digesting…

  12. No autocrat allows anyone to have a sword hanging over her head. JDV had what he thought was as an amulet to challenge the wicked queen but he should have known better than to believe that she was going to allow him to share in the plunder of the treasury. It was only a matter of time.

    Now everyone will know that corruption will be more centralized with the Big Mike and GMA clan fully in control of the treasury.

    Erap has already been bought off with part of his wealth protected from garnishment by the state.

    We should not forget the role of the technocrats under Marcos who aided and abetted his rule and plunder; Sicat, Ongpin, Virata, Laya and others.

    Today we have a new set in Neri and co.

    The bulk of the population today were not around during the 70’s and 80’s. This is is really not new. The legislature, executive and a large part of the police/military are now almost entirely indentured to the first family and probably except for a few members of the judiciary so is most of the judicial system.

    This time it is the lure of immediate wealth that is being used to undermine true and effective governance.

  13. It sounds so full of cynicism, but it seems that is why people want to get elected to Congress… to be within reach of …is the lure of immediate wealth that is being used to undermine true and effective governance

    But it still takes a modicum of wealth before one gets elected, so in some twisted 😕 way wanting to get into Congress is motivational for GNP-growth. :-|:

  14. Trapo talaga itong is Shrek-ears JDV. Now he’s gone to the opposition. 😀

    Parang si Tita Miriam Santiago, when FPJ dumped her VP ambitions, she moved to GMA.

    Er, is it too early to ask for a snap election? Manuel Pangilinan perhaps?

  15. House Speaker Nograles, hurray.

    “Aside from being the Billboard King, he was called by a Davao broadcaster the “Burlesque King” for an alleged extra-marital affair. Nograles retaliated by filing a libel case in 2001 that sent Bombo broadcaster Alexander “Lex” Adonis to jail. According to court records, Adonis identified Nograles as the man seen running naked in a Manila hotel after the husband of his alleged paramour caught them in a hotel room.”

  16. Are the neophytes an especially strong/large group this time around? Does anybody know the typical number of brand new congressmen/women? Was this Congress an especially “new” one…with an inordinate amount of first-timers???


    The Opposition is a crazy bunch! No different from the Administration of Gloria Arroyo.

    Firstly ,they will support the ouster of Speaker Joe De Venecia

    Secondly,after his ouster from the speakership ,they will welcome him in the opposition!

    No wonder,this country is in a mess.All the politicians are HYPOCRITES of the highest order!

  18. equalizer, you’re not asking the right question. which part of the opposition? the minority is composed of different groups. and in what capacity, since jdv hasn’t said he’s resigning from lakas.

  19. “I hope both sides duke it out and that none will remain standing and we’d all be better off.-nash

    how’s that, nash? i wonder what it would be like for Pinas w/zero politician.

  20. the overwhelming majority of the men and women of congress (far more than the required 121) has voted to oust jdv. this proves beyond doubt that the support he enjoyed in the chamber has been tenuous at best, propped up by the majority’s loyalty to the president. even with the entire left-wing group and fanatic anti-arroyo forces siding with him, all jdv could muster was less than 40 votes for the status quo.

    his rehash of the charges against the administration, without substantiation, apparently fell on deaf ears, largely unconvinced by its sheer hypocrisy and lack of sincerity. as one legislator puts it, it tells more about the character of the man than that of the person he is accusing.

    if he hasn’t realized it earlier, jdv3 must now be convinced of the havoc he has caused his father by thinking that he could go around accusing people of wrongdoing on the basis of his words alone. as a good father, jdv could have demanded from his son to put up or shut up. failing in that, and without interfering in his son’s “independent” decision, jdv could have denounced the charges to the whole world for what they really were – unfounded assertions that could not be proven. he chose to uphold his son – right or wrong – invoking the truism “blood is thicker than water” and face the consequences.
    those consequences are now unfolding.

    now he is moving towards the point of no return and burning the bridges behind him. now he has to cast lot with the opposition members who, themselves, have some ax to grind against him and not sure whether he would be a boon or a liability to their cause.

  21. @bert

    “how’s that, nash? i wonder what it would be like for Pinas w/zero politician.”

    exactamento. we need zero politicians and more statesmen. (another weshpol thenking)

    however, new house speaker prospero looks just as dodgy.

  22. @cvj

    “Mar Roxas has some explaining to do.”

    TRUE. We really want to know what on earth did he see in make-up encrusted Korina Sanchez? Eww. Imagine her as first lady. (shivers!)

  23. “I accept this position with all humility. I asked myself what I’m doing here and I tell myself it’s God’s will. It’s probably destiny,” Nograles said.

    OMG! Another one with a messianic complex. Total nutter.

    I often ask myself, why is it that GMA, Cory Aquino, and Erap can all ‘talk’ to God.

  24. @Nash,

    Here are the top 3 reasons why politicians say they talk to God:

    (1) the politicians, sick in the brain, mistake the hum of the fluorescent light ballasts to be the words of God;
    (2) the politicians, cunning as the devil — give voters what the voters want, leaders who have a special direct-line to Upstairs;
    (3) the politicians just tweaking their thumbs at the electorate, saying another lie and daring the electorate to catch them if they can

  25. metrocom, assholes like you don’t deserve this “asswipe”. go and find yourself a bamboo to scrape your crap!

  26. Manolo, the situation is confusticating. I’ve personally disliked JDV ever since he landed in Congress, so we are really scraping the bottom of the porcine barrel if JDV becomes a symbol of administrative oppression. Where else but in our country can we descend further into the pits? 🙂

  27. metrocom, assholes like you don’t deserve this “asswipe”. go and find yourself a bamboo to scrape off your crap!

  28. A vacuum now exists in the Lower House, a vacuum of balance not only in Congress but in our nation as well. The check and balance against the Executive Branch is now almost totally gone and Congress is now filled with “yes men” by the administration. By now we know who the future godlings of Congress will be and it ain’t Nograles, as we can now safely say of this administration, “Blood is thicker than water”.

    In any case, the fall of De Venecia was predicted and would have be easily seen in the past if one would look at it in a wider point of view. The removal of De Venecia is a necessity brought upon by bigger nefarious design. If we look at the motives of this administration, it did not really change its objective which is – Gaining Total Power. As such the timetable is actually right on track delayed only by the opposition and civil society. So how did their objective go so far? In order to gain dictatorship whether by an individual or a clique this is what I have predicted nearly a year ago, this had been my predicted scenario:

    1. Joe de Venecia would have to go since he is a rival for a Prime Minister position

    2. Charter Change must still push through so that term limits would be removed for the future Congressmen (or the future Parliament for that matter) and the position of Prime Minister must have unlimited term.

    3. The position of Prime Minister should be a post that would be chosen by a small group (i.e. Parliament) so that only a few need to be convinced and as a consequence would have lesser bribes to dispose to get favors.

    4. The COMELEC must be controlled and manipulated.

    5. Maintain a Praetorian guard among generals in the PNP and Armed Forces

    6. Maintain the “Destabilizer” and “Communist” bogey so as to justify crackdowns of legitimate protest including opinions published by legitimate media.

    7. Emasculate the media so that those currently in power can be corrupt and abuse power without chastisement.

    8. If unable to push through the above agendas effectively, they will fabricate a reason or a scenario to declare Martial Rule, or at least put in the mechanisms for a de facto Martial Law.

    This will be done at all costs. Everyone will be expendable EVEN the very lapdog Congress itself. Little does the existing Lower House know that they are soon in danger of losing their power even if they continue being the lapdog that most of them are. Impossible? That is also what they said when I indicated that JDV would eventually be kicked out.

    Observe the events of the coming months and years and observe this emerging pattern. Only a vigorous push of different sectors of society against this evil agenda will throw a monkey wrench in their plans. Don’t forget Ramos in this equation as well.

    (On another note, the new Inquirer blog design seems to be filtering individuals who oppose the administration or perhaps it is just glitch ridden or maybe I am just being paranoid. Hope I am wrong. The timing of the glitches in the Inquirer blogsite uncannily coincided with a major strategic power move of the administration, i.e. removing JDV. Hope it does not happen here in this site as well.)