The story went like this:
On the afternoon of April 20, Rep. Eleandro Jesus Fabic Madrona, Romblon’s most successful political butterfly, joined a group of congressmen belonging to PaLaKa (Partido Lakas-Kampi) at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City to demonstrate its show of support to PaLaKa official presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr.
Hours later, on the same day, Rep. Madrona, like a toad, jumped to the camp of NP presidential candidate Manuel Villar and right there and then, with another toad in tow in the person of Romblon’s most despised governor, Natalio Beltran III, took his oath as an NP member. Madrona and Beltran were accompanied in the oath-taking by16 other toadies, or palakpak boys, one of whom was a classmate in high school, Adrian Feudo, a mayoralty candidate.
End of story?
Nah. There is more to it than this party-hopping, ship-jumping, boat-rowing tandem meets the eye.
So listen, you unsuspecting, politician-worshipping, readers of the Romblon Sun and I’ll deliver a blow-by-blow account of what I read behind the scenes of this story which made it to Page 1 of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The reporters who filed the story, TJ Burgonio, a bespectacled Senate beat reporter, and Jhunnex Napallacan of the Inquirer’s Visayas bureau, tell us that Madrona did not return their calls to give his side of the story. Instead, it was another controversial Budoy toady, San Fernando mayor Nanette Tansingco, who spoke on Madrona’s behalf.
Tansingco said Madrona was ruing the fact that he and his candidates were not receiving any money from PaLaKa, hence their transfer. “The funds aren’t trickling down to our level; we’re not being given agriculture projects. And we are the administration candidates.”
So, it’s all about money as I have suspected all along. But wait, where did Madrona spend the millions in pork barrel funds, including his ‘tip’ for voting against the Con-Ass bill, he had amassed over the last three years? Naubos sa buyang?
It turned out Madrona had a valid complaint. PaLaKa secretary-general Rey Roquero said Madrona was complaining about Agriculture secretary Bernie Fondevilla’s allegedly campaigning for his nemesis, Vice Governor Alice Fetalvero.
Ah, Bernie Fondevilla, why did you suddenly materialize in this drama? I thought you are a bureaucrat, a non-politician, but did Budoy suddenly dragged you out in the streets? Are you, as Budoy was complaining, campaigning for Fetalvero?
Yes, you are, I suppose. I remember you have been giving away pump boat machines and other agriculture goodies before the campaign, with Alice Fetalvero and some mayor-friends as conduit. Many in my town of Sibale even received the ‘dole-out’. Did you also distribute ice-making machines which your patron, former secretary Arthur Yap, bought at very expensive prices?
I don’t know how you will react to Madrona’s accusation, but the guy was hurting. Very badly, I suppose, because Romblon’s first agriculture secretary does not love the incumbent congressman, siding instead with its well-loved vice governor. Turn of events, or turn of the wheel of fortunes. Aren't you two bosom friends before?
The equation is complete; the picture perfect. The showdown is inevitable. Fetalvero, an NPC stalwart, is getting help from all corners, including from a supposed to be non-political secretary of agriculture. Ranged against this line-up is Madrona’s army, with Beltran as barker and former DPWH district engineer Dodoy Perez, the apparition-prone but cockfight aficionado, as lieutenant.
I almost forgot another cast on Fetalvero’s camp. He is Lolong Firmalo, a doctor--often painted into a corner by his detractors for his unpredictable political mind--and incumbent SP member Mel Madrid.
But this is not about Bernie Fondevilla, or Alice Fetalvero, or Lolong Firmalo. This is about Budoy and Beltran changing boats in the middle of a boat race and navigating on two rivers.
Is there something surprising in this? None. Budoy is so used to fooling national politicians about his loyalties that he has been to all major political parties hereabouts. He is so good at political drama that even the likes of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile once complained to me about his unorthodox money-making abilities: he promised to support JPE and then dumped him after obtaining his support. Name it and Budoy has been a member of this or that political party. It’s second skin to him to switch loyalties. He is a political chameleon, with the ability to change colors at a moment’s notice.
“Ang madalas manumpa ay kasumpa-sumpa.” Guess who said that. It was former Cavite governor Juanito Remulla who blurted that out when some of his staunchest allies in the regional party, Magdalo, switched from his party to Lakas in 1997 to fight him. Magdalo, in the elections of 1998, decimated in the polls all those that abandoned Remulla.
There is a very near possibility that Madrona, Beltran, Perez and their 16 mayors will be massacred in the May 10 election by the opposition forces led by Fetalvero and Firmalo. If this happens, then Remulla’s prophetic words will be affirmed once again. If this happens, Madrona will only have himself to blame.
For abandoning a sinking ship like a rat, Budoy is courting disaster. He might drown. Beltran and Perez combined cannot save him. Both are in themselves drowning and are in deep s_ _t.
And Budoy’s mayors? Here is a very safe prediction. In the moment of Alice’s and Lolong’s triumph, they will troop to the victor’s camp faster than I can write two sentences. They will abandon Budoy and when that happens, truly that will be the irony of ironies in this truly sordid episode. I will bet my gin money on this. These mayors, after all, are traditional politicians to the core. They can’t be trusted in their words.
Of course, Bernie, regardless of his protestation that he is not involved, will celebrate—no, laugh in glee—if and when Fetalvero becomes congresswoman. He will claim credit as the architect of the victory. Is Bernie Fondevilla a member of the NPC? If he is not, why is PGMA allowing him to distribute agriculture goodies to non-PaLaKa members? Well, the information is ripe that when Bernie went to Calatrava a few weeks ago, he summoned Fetalvero's mayors and asked them to support Gibo. The opposition in Romblon is for Gibo, not Noynoy, not Villar, not Erap!
And in that moment of victory, the people who voted for the opposition will be forgotten, I hope only temporarily, for since when traditional politicians acknowledge the masses in the aftermath of a successful revolution?
More than often, they are left whistling in the dark, holding an empty bag. Say this ain’t so, Fetalvero. Say this ain’t so, Firmalo. As for Bernie, just wait, hijo, until June 30.