The majority senators are frozen in silence

Majority senator on a tough issue.

By JoeAm

Majority senators are stuck between a rock and a hard place. That accounts for their silence during all the Independence Day chatter about China’s harassment of Filipino fishermen. In fact, they have been silent on a lot of important issues. Although they look to President Duterte for certain favors in the future, they also have to deal with the voting public to keep their jobs, or get better ones. They cannot afford to be loose of lip.

Take Senator Poe, for instance. She may want to run for president in 2022. It does not suit her ambitions to be labeled a China lover by speaking out on behalf of the Duterte appeasement program. She does not want to be labeled an EJK supporter by advocating for the aggressive drug war.

So she is silent about these crucial issues. She talks about motorcycles instead.

Senator Angara is taking a beating on TRAIN-inspired inflation. He doesn’t need any other damaging issues to rock his boat.

Some of the majority senators are actually patriotic and object to Duterte’s failure to stand up for Philippine sovereign rights. They also don’t like police brutality, inflation that hurts the poor, or fake news.

Only Senator Sotto speaks out clearly in favor of the Duterte agenda, which is why he was made Senate President even though he appears to have no leadership capacity. He is not even capable of good ethical judgment (engaging in plagiarism and attacking opinions as fake news). He seems to be a mere factotum, a puppet on a string, a mouth with no moral clarity or independent judgment.

What are the issues that the minority can raise without majority objection?

  1. Uninvestigated police killings. The number is in the tens of thousands. It is horrifying.
  2. Sovereignty. China’s occupation of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, with Scarborough being a flashpoint because there is absolutely no basis for Chinese boats being there.
  3. Inflation, the weakness of the peso, mounting debt, deteriorating competitive rankings . . . all things economic that hurt poor and working Filipinos. You know, VOTERS!
  4. Oppression of the Catholic Church, women, and the poor. More VOTERS.
  5. State sponsored lies, division and disparagement, corruption, impunity, and incompetence: horrible State practices.

Issues like transportation and federalism are not useful for the minority to emphasize because they are reasonably debatable. The minority’s clarity of argument gets lost in the muddle.

But killings, loss of sovereignty, economic punishments, oppression of Filipinos, and State cruelty, corruption, and incompetence . . . these are issues majority senators cannot comfortably defend. Indeed, the majority may end up supporting some of the minority arguments. They may be wedge issues that can force an ambitious senator to move to principle over loyalty to an oddly behaving president.

I suspect the minority can command the entire arena of public discourse over the next year by hammering loudly and consistently on these five issues. That would carry them into the 2019 elections loud and clear.


32 Responses to “The majority senators are frozen in silence”
  1. NHerrera says:

    Yes, issues that ring a bell with the majority of Filipinos (voters). Crisp and sharp article Joe.

    My word for the day: MEEKNESS (does this rhyme with cowardice?)

    My last post in the previous blog article seem appropriate and I repeat it here:

    MODERN VARIATIONS OF “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”

    On the spate of killings of Catholic priests:

    * Archbishop Cardinal Antonio Tagle — Continue with the tolling of the church bells.

    * Senate Present Vic Sotto — Opposed Senator Risa Hontiveros’ proposal for a Senate probe on the killings of Catholic priests in the country.

    (Those sure lighten up the works and stresses of both Tagle and Sotto.)

    • Meek = the pragmatic of avoiding being cursed at by the President. Tragic for its failure to hold power to account. Sotto claims to be a man of faith, I believe.

    • NHerrera says:

      “In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”
      — Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

      I don’t know if that fits some Senators, but I believe it fits my former favorite and admired Solicitor General, turned SC Justice — Jardeleza

  2. edgar lores says:

    1. Tis strange.

    2. Invariably, politicians are loose of tongue. Normally, it would take a team of horses to rein them in. Or the pincers of large mud crabs to seal their lips.

    3. But indubitably, in this extended political season of fear, the cat has got their tongue.

    4. The idiomatic cat is, of course, Duterte. The senators are afraid to speak in turn less they lose their funding or alienate Duterte’s numerous supporters. Or afraid to be at the receiving end of a profane tongue lashing.

    5. To speak out is to bring attention to one’s self. And those that have spoken out against the Catamount have been punished for their pains by blasphemy, incarceration, or ouster.

    6. Not a single senator has stood up to defend their Faith. Sotto who has been outspoken in his defense of Church doctrines has been biting his tongue. For politicos, tongueless wonders.

    7. Tis a hopeless lot.

  3. Frozen? Were their hearts and minds on a trip to Norwegia? They should go to Naga and warm up in Tiwi hot springs below Mayon.

  4. karlgarcia says:


    The hybrid constitutional body as proposed by Sotto was opposed by the minority in the lower house. Arroyo also proposed some form of hybrid constitutional body. This is clearly another case of Sotto Copying.

  5. madlanglupa says:

    OT: On one hand…

    …and Sotto now wanting to have the skeletons in his closet destroyed.

    • edgar lores says:

      This time Sotto wants to cut and no paste?

    • The article says two senate committees will join to investigate foreign policy regarding China’s behavior in the West Philippine Sea. This is good. Chairs are Sen. Loren Legarda (Foreign Affairs Committee) and Sen. Gregorio Honasan (National Defense and Security Committee). I hope they move forthrightly.

      The Imgur photo is of a letter from Senator Sotto to Inquirer columnist Rodel Rodis asking him to remove three articles he wrote regarding the alleged rape of Pepsi Paloma. Sotto is evidently identified as a party to that alleged crime. I think the request will simply bring the matter back into the public’s awareness as a free speech issue, and do the opposite of what Senator Sotto wants.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Although the strong religious conservatives and blind fans will stand behind him, the Senator trying to whitewash the issue — again, but as Senate President — would only backfire on him, on top of his other Streisand-like attempts at squelching public opinion (including tries at controlling the Internet).

      • NHerrera says:

        In adaptation of Charles Dickens:

        Jardeleza Syndrome = “I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”

        The quality of the Joint-Committee Hearing (on Foreign Affairs and National Defense and Security) will soon be seen by the quality of those invited to attend, including, in my opinion, the Fishermen; and the quality of the questions asked by the Comm Chairpersons as well as those Senators who will not hide from attending.

        I hope we have reached rock bottom on JS.

        On Sotto, methinks he as well as his staff are intellectually challenged. Haven’t they heard or read variations of the proverb, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but might do so as a result of such interference.

        • True enough on both counts, the committee value, and Senator Sotto’s major major gaffe. I wonder if he figured he was like the president with his new position and could overpower the Inquirer.

          • Note, both Honasan and Legarda are in their second terms so will be out of the Senate in 2019. I wonder if they will do anything to offend Duterte who has the power of appointments over them. I predict it will not be a forceful hearing.

            • NHerrera says:

              Since they are relatively young, Legarda and Honasan must have under consideration, among others, there view on their Senatorial Bids in the next cycle after the forced break, assuming the Cha-Cha plebiscite does not fly. That and their assessment of the survivability of the Duterte brand after 2022. The Senators in the majority up for a re-election must have a different approach to the hearing. It is interesting then to see how the Hearing Show will unfold. “Different strokes for different folks.”

              • karlgarcia says:

                With the way Gordon dominated the hearings, I think he will do it again. He already called China a bully and an unreliable ally.

                I understand he is from Zambales and the most affected are the fidhermen ftom Zambales, but I find this statement of his vey odd.

                “Should the bullying continue, Gordon said the Philippines may be forced to form alliances with Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand or perhaps the United States.”

              • edgar lores says:

                Gordon is really a schmuck.

                He has been silent about the mistreatment of Filipino fisherman by the Chinese for all these years, and he has been supportive of Duterte. He has been voluble on Duterte; silent on Panatag.

                Now that he senses a decline in the Duterte brand, now he speaks out.

              • I was reading of his remarks. He is calling for ‘one voice’, which means getting one side or the other to give something up, or both to meet half-way. I’m not sure he has the ability to craft that single voice. He may actually be playing both sides to remain relevant to both. Pop corn.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sorry again for the typos.

              • NHerrera says:


                Thanks for that note. I take it as a refreshing change from the utmost subservience to the Boss, displayed on the EJK related Hearings. At least he is not letting down his constituents in Zambales this time.

              • karlgarcia says:


              • karlgarcia says:

                I too think that Gordon is too late the hero.
                I also sense that he will dominate the hearings, if Legarda and Honasan will allow him.

                NH also has a point that it is a refreshing change from his being subservient to Duterte. Maybe it is never too late.
                Gordon is not a reelectionist , will he be consistent regarding the bullying of fishermen in WPS and in calling China an unreliable ally?

              • NHerrera says:


                “All hat and no cattle.” That Texas saying seems to fit Gordon.

                (Got that saying from Minority Senate Leader Schumer, in criticizing Trump’s supposed achievement from that US-NK Meeting in Singapore.)

    • karlgarcia says:’s Statement.(Last Paragraph)

      In relation to Sen. Sotto’s request, has not made any decision. This is also the reason why we’ve asked Mr. Rodis to comment on the request. He has replied to us by email which we received today (June 16, 2018). But his act of posting this request on social media is his own decision. has nothing to do with it.

      Read more:
      Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

  6. Sup says:

    Norwegia is near Icecreamland, Sweaten and Fineland….. 🙂

  7. I liked last Saturday’s musical interlude.. and this silence fits the topic:

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