"Masterminding" the Senate Revamp
Fifteen Senators had gathered at the honorable Senator’s home in Makati City, unbeknownst to Malacañang. The meeting’s participants had only one item on their agenda: to unify the majority in one fell swoop. Leading the charge with a shrewd maneuver to oust non-cooperative members from positions in the upper chamber, a national hero, honorable Senator and honorary Boston Celtics member: Manny Pacquiao.
The former actor, singer, one-time PBA player and Machiavellian host of this clandestine meeting would also take the lead during the following day’s Senate session. With the utterance of one simple sentence, the cunning Pacquiao set in motion a complex political maneuver to bring change upon the Senate and our nation:
“Thank you, Mr. President… uhm I move that uh… the position of the Senate President uh… pro tempore be declared vacant.”
Punctuated by heavy, meaningful pauses, Pacquiao delivered his motion with clear-eyed focus and determination, which left Senate President pro tempore Franklin Drilon no choice but to stand down and second the motion. The vacuum would not remain for long, as the lawyer and chairman of the Liberal Party was swiftly replaced by Ralph Recto, tipped off to the masterful move shortly beforehand. Recto, the former Senate Minority Leader, is deemed by Pacquiao to be a helpful collaborator. The honorable Senator Recto has in the past held controversial positions on several issues: a pro-tobacco stance defying anti-smoking groups, his authorship of the unpopular Expanded Value Added Tax law, as well as a claim to possess two completed master’s degrees.
“Mr. President uhm… I move to uh… the chairman’s, that the chairmanship and members of the committee on uh… health uh… be declared vacant, Mr. President.”
With Pacquiao’s second motion, Risa Hontiveros, an award-winning broadcast journalist, Nobel Peace Prize nominated social activist, and leading Anti-discrimination Bill proponent was replaced by the honorable JV Ejercito. The son of pardoned former President Joseph Estrada is ideally placed to fulfill the duties of the chairmanship as he was recently cleared of a graft charge related to the alleged misuse of calamity funds to purchase firearms during his time as mayor of San Juan City.
“Mr. President, I move that the chairmanship and members of the committee on agriculture be declared vacant.”
Senator Pacquaio found his groove with the third motion replacing Kiko Pangilinan with Cynthia Villar. While not having direct agriculture experience, Villar possesses agriculture-adjacent expertise as the current Chief of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee. She is also the wife of billionaire businessman Manny Villar, a former Senator who resigned due to the C-5 extension controversy, and whose name was found on a list of people with secret offshore accounts.
“Mr. President, I move that the chairmanship and members of the committee on education be declared vacant.”
Finally, the reorganization of the Senate was brought to a smooth end with Pacquiao’s fourth motion replacing Senator and social entrepreneur Bam Aquino with former presidential candidate Chiz Escudero. A lawyer and lecturer with a master’s degree from Georgetown, he also wrote a column called “Say Chiz” for Abante and Abante Tonite, and married Heart Evangelista, who helped the late Miriam Defensor Santiago campaign for the International Criminal Court at the UN in New York.