Siling Labuyo: What’s for dinner Mr. President?
So, the president of the Philippines invited Vice-President (VP) Leni Robredo and her family to dinner, what’s the big deal? Well, normally it isn’t. But when a supporter senator who happened to be one of the president’s archenemy advises the VP not to accept the invitation, then it becomes a big deal. Also, given the current state of affairs in the Philippines, the invitation raised many eyebrows. It’s like, what is the president up to? Is he really going to seduce or cast a spell on the VP to make her more submissive and/or maybe just to pull the rug from under her? I’m glad the VP did accept the dinner invitation. Senator Sonny Trillanes is probably fuming mad and letting out some expletives but I think VP Leni Robredo did the right thing by accepting the invitation. There are not many possible bad outcomes I can imagine from this get together and probably will have more on the plus side. Besides, regardless of her strained relationship with the president, it will be bad manners for a VP to say no to such invitation not to mention that she will get roasted by Mucha Uson to no end. Perhaps the venue will be at Malacañang and it’s everybody’s guess as to who else are coming to dinner. I’m sure the VP has asked for some particulars before she said yes. Things like, aside from them who else will be attending the occasion. Is it formal or informal dinner? Will the Speaker and Senate president be attending too? Most importantly, what is the purpose of the event – to press the restart button, apologize in private and away from the press, or is the president going to read her the riot act like, “Are you going to behave or should I let the dogs proceed with your impeachment?” Worse, being Lent is this her last supper at the palace by the river before she is stripped of her position (PET ruling on the VP poll protest or impeachment)? These are lots of questions that Trillanes had probably thought of already and analyzed. While still on the phone with Malacañang, the VP should ask the president beforehand what’s the menu for dinner? As a Catholic, I’m sure the VP would ask for a no-meat menu and perhaps to add more veggies. But the president may not necessarily be a veggie guy and would rather have thick burgers or barbecued meat that goes well with beer or hard drinks. So, there could be some disagreement there but the thing here is, if they can’t agree on a menu, then how can they even agree on more substantive things? The VP could also ask for dessert, to exclude the president’s Bicolano lawyer, Salvador Panelo from the gathering for her to avoid indigestion. Moving ahead, for all intents and purposes, let’s give the president some credit and perhaps this is his way of restarting things. They got off to a bad start and why not start over. Fine, dinner it is. Anyway, the kids will be there and I’m sure the president will be in his best behavior – no cursing, no green jokes, and no sexual overtones. You know, like – how are you, fine thank you will do. The conversations over dinner I’m sure will be light but tense unless someone can come up with a good ice breaker. Good barbequed lobster and some not too expensive wine can help. But, they could only carry that conversation to a point. President Duterte is not much of storyteller unless he is in the company of other guys like his buddies over some hard liquor. But this occasion is not that. So as adults and hopefully mature individuals, the two will ask to be excused after dinner for some private conversations. “Leni, kuwan, can I talk to you in private? Nothing bad, just want to clear the air,” could be DU30’s opening. And the VP could say, “ha? Okay pero easy lang ka, okay?” Then they could go to a veranda if there is one, or a room with a view. Not a study or meeting room. The privacy of a study room could give the president some bad ideas and opportunity to misbehave. A meeting room on the other gives the president the home court advantage and that will not be a starter. So, a room or space private enough but their families could still see them in full view. Okay, I’m sure the president will have been briefed by his people and will be given some talking points. Same with the VP, she too will have some talking points. So, where do we start? DU30 will probably start with some compliments and come up with some clichés like “the weather is beautiful just like you.” A little chuckle there and the VP will return the compliment with something like “The typhoon will soon be here and I dread it.” DU30 will ask, “Why?” “Typhoons are strong and reminds me of your presidency,” the VP scores and cha-ching the temperature in the room rises a bit. “You think I’m a strong president Madame?” with eye brows rising. “Mr. President, you said it yourself that you have a muscular presidency and people below you tend to flex their muscles in response to your dare,” the VP warming up and with an equally furrowed facial expression. “You mean the killings?” asked a now agitated president. “That primarily and the harassment of the opposition,” the smiling VP said. “When you smile like that makes me feel patronized because behind such smile are thoughts of destabilization and overreach for power,” a visibly red-faced president becomes animated. “Smiling for me is natural Mr. President, you should know that because I have this small dimple,” reassured the VP. “Madame, we’re talking about bad guys who are corrupting our young people,” said the prez. “Not to mention, they are also corrupting our politicians,” added the VP. “There!” exclaimed the president. “You hit it right on the head of the nail when you said that. It is De Lima who got corrupted by drug money.” If you’re lost at this point, perhaps some backgrounder will help. LP Senator Leila De Lima was on a warpath from day one she took office. Her criticisms of the president were unrelenting even after she landed in jail for corruption and drug related charges brought on by her successor at the Justice Department – Vitaliano Aguirre. Aguirre was the president’s classmate at San Beda where Aguirre reportedly graduated as the class valedictorian. De Lima is also a San Bedan but EJK somehow led these three individuals to cross-swords with Aguirre and Duterte on the same side since their heydays in Davao. When De Lima chaired the Human Rights department, she initiated an investigation into the alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS) purportedly led by Duterte. As we are finding now through the testimonies of self-confessed DDS hitmen Lascañas and Matobato, many of the bodies who were targeted for summary executions were buried in the so-called Laud Quarry which is owned by retired policeman Ben Laud. At the time, De Lima’s efforts to exhume the bodies at the said quarry were stymied by Laud’s brilliant lawyer, Vitaliano Aguirre now the justice secretary. It is not rocket science to see the intervening connections between Duterte and Aguirre and thus their efforts to go after De Lima. “But Mr. President, Senator De Lima is being railroaded by the system,” complained the VP. “Madame VP, the only railroading I’m aware of is the rehabilitation of the PNR trains to Bicol. De Lima is guilty according to the convicts in the Bilibid. They should know because they’re experts when it comes to drug dealing,” explained the DU30. “They are polluted witnesses, Mr. President because they all have lots to gain by following Secretary Aguirre’s script,” added the VP. “They’re lying through their teeth, obviously.” “Lies? Think again Madame,” protested a visibly agitated president. “You know who is a great liar, it is that bully Trillanes!” “Imagine he is accusing me of being behind the Davao Death Squad.” “But Mr. President, you were the one bragging about the number of kills you had while mayor of Davao,” retorted the VP. “Remember you even mentioned about riding your motorcycle and going around the neighborhood and doing some target practice by shooting bad guys you happened to spot, right?” Again, backgrounder, Senator Sonny Trillanes has been hot on Duterte’s trail alleging the president has institutionalized the EJK methodologies he perfected in Davao as part of a national policy as in state sanctioned killing – one of the grounds that Duterte can be hailed to the International Court of Justice (ICC). Trillanes has made it a crusade to have Duterte hailed to ICC through the DDS hitmen’s confessions and the thousands killed through “Operation Tokhang.” He is also alleging that the president is corrupt and has processed through Duterte’s and family’s bank accounts to the tune of P2 billion pesos. “Leni, I will let you in some little secrets of mine,” said a grinning DU30. “You know, lots of times I’m joking, you know when you’re with the barkada we BS a lot and sometimes when speaking in public I forget and tend to exaggerate.” “Mr. President, I have an unimpeachable source that said that all these summary killings in Davao were orchestrated by Maestro Rody,” the VP pointing a finger to the president. “Madame VP, be careful pointing that finger to me. “Unimpeachable source my butt,” an irritated DU30 fumed. “What is unimpeachable is me because we have the numbers in the Batasan. But you, I can have you impeached and all I have to do is tell Speaker Alvarez NOT to impeach you and he will do the opposite. So, be careful with that finger.” At this point DU30’s blood pressure was already high, the president was already gesturing for the lady to leave and motioned his PSG guards to see them off. “Thank you Mr. President for the lobster,” a chastened VP hurriedly collected her children and left in a huff. “I hope you have a great Lenten experience,” said the VP as she was leaving. Wanting to have the last word, the president’s parting shot was, “let’s see who gets nailed on the cross!”