Last Monday morning, Jan. 28, 2019, we were watching the “Ikaw na Ba” interview series of senatorial aspirants over GMA News TV hosted by award-winning broadcaster Mike Enriquez. His guests were senator hopefuls Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and top-notch election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
We consider that interview the most lively and friendly in the exchange of ideas between candidates belonging to opposing groups. Dela Rosa is rabidly pro-administration who openly admitted his decision to run for the Senate was strongly influenced by the President’s supposed prodding. On the other hand, Macalintal who claims to be an independent candidate, insisted he is only a part of a coalition of oppositionists to the Duterte regime on invitation by Vice President Leni Robredo of the Liberal Party. He is also the Vice President’s lawyer in the ongoing electoral protest filed against her by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
We say that their interview by Enriquez was the most lively ever because there was never a dull moment in the way they answer probing questions. Even in arguing their points their differing opinion never showed any badge of personal disagreement. Their comportment in that interview was a strong manifestation of French philosopher Voltaire’s iconic statement that “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to death for your right to say it.”
However, at certain point of the interview both Dela Rosa and Macalintal, we assume, were carried away by their emotion as they tried to show how sincere they are in their desire to serve.
Dela Rosa, perhaps unknowingly, revealed his recklessness in his language. We do not know if he was trying to ape the President’s manner of speaking at the middle of a discussion on the issue of the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. While responding to a question by Enriquez why it appears that there have been no drug lords arrested and convicted for their illegal activities and that only the street level alleged pushers are killed, Dela Rosa retorted that, “Meron naman, Parojinog, that mayor of… Espinosa. In fact meron nga’ng drug lord na nabura na sa mundo, nawala na, hindi na makikita.” When asked by Enriquez who that big-time drug personality is the former chief of the Philippine National Police refused to name the person. He only gave an intriguing laugh.
We do not know if Dela Rosa was, at that time, aware of the possible implication of his statement. We are certain many Filipinos know who the alleged drug lord has been missing for a number of months already. And deciphering the message between the lines of the former PNP chief’s statement even the not-so-well-read Filipinos may come to conclusions that the police have knowledge of how that drug lord disappeared and that he could never be located even with a massive manhunt launched by the government’s law enforcement units.
On the other hand, the amiable lawyer, despite his manifest brilliance, also made a somewhat innocent statement that did not escape notice from the host’s keen watch of every word uttered by the interviewees.
While Macalintal was made to disclose his main advocacy if elected senator, the election lawyer was emphatic that he will strongly work for the rights and benefits of the elderly under existing laws and would introduce new legislations to give more benefits to senior citizens.
In the process he shared with the host and the program audience his own experience when at one time he was asking for a senior citizen’s discount in buying a plane ticket. The ticketing clerk, according to Macalintal, asked for his government issued senior citizen ID. He presented instead another ID card showing that he is already past 60 years old. The ticketing clerk refused to honor the ID he presented and insisted on his senior citizen ID.
Macalintal told Enriquez and the television audience, that in arguing with the clerk he said that he forgot to bring with him his senior citizen ID, justifying, “Alam mo ninyo, kaming mga senior citizen ay medyo makakalimutin na.”
Even before Macalintal could finish his narration host Enriquez cut him short telling Macalintal straight on his face that, “Attorney, sa sinabi mo hindi kaya makakasira sa tsansa ninyo? Hindi kaya sasabihin nga mga botante na makakalimutin na pala ito. Baka makalimutan na niya ang kanyang mga pangako kung nasa Senado na siya,” or something to that effect.
Macalintal appeared flabbergasted that he found himself recoiling to explain to the host why he told the ticketing clerk that way.
On the whole, the two aspirants seemed to have agreed that if “Sila na nga” they could be supporting each other in the Senate and be strongly on opposite ends on issues they differ in positions.
Good luck gentlemen!
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