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FIRING LINE: Arnie’s world getting smaller

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves is being charged with masterminding the brazen attack on Gov. Ruel Degamo that ended the lives of the governor and eight other people last March 4.

This is on top of charges over the cache of firearms, explosives, and ammo seized from his family’s properties last March 10. Incidentally, one of those arrested by police during the raids is implicated in the murder of three people in 2019.

Quickly, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri suggested that Cong. Arnie Teves’s passport be canceled, so he would be forced to return to the country. The world is caving in on Teves.

Your move, Mr. President

Congress reporter Ellson Quismorio wrote an insightful piece titled “Quimbo cracks code on how the onion cartel works” in the Manila Bulletin last weekend. In it, Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo reveals how the whole onion hoarding-price manipulation scheme is done.

She traces the collaborative involvement of “Sibuyas Queen” Lilia Cruz (alias Leah Cruz) and her Vieva (Vegetable Exporters and Vendors Association) Philippines, Inc.; the logistics firm Golden Shine; and cold storage facilities like Tian Long Corp. in Bulacan to corner the supply of onions through prior importations that then gives their cartel the leverage to buy local farmers’ produce in bulk and at dirt prices.

That, Quimbo said, is how the cartel controls the supply and, therefore, the price. So now, the big question is – What will Mr. Bongbong Marcos, as the Agriculture Secretary and the President, do about it?

Cha-cha or coup numbers?

Fired up about Charter change (Cha-cha), Sen. Robinhood Padilla seems to be going anywhere and nowhere with his “consultation caravan,” selling the idea that this is the best time to revise the 1987 Constitution.

So far, he’s been to Baguio, Cebu, and Davao; if you listen to the discussions, many sectoral representatives pose challenging questions or question the need for it.

Padilla is spending on this exploration for support, yet he needs help figuring out how to earn the three-fourths vote (18 out of 24) required of the Senate. Earlier, he named 12 senators backing his Cha-cha mission, but they have yet to come out to give their affirmation.

I understand it must be disheartening for Padilla that the most vocal about the issue of Cha-cha has been Senate President Migz Zubiri, who is frank enough to say it won’t be ratified because the bill does not have the numbers nor the support of the President. Period.

And for speaking the truth, Zubiri is now hounded by whispers of a Senate coup. It takes only half plus one of the membership to install a new Senate President. We can only wonder if those 13 votes really exist and if the composition of that number is identical to the tally Padilla claims to be in support of his Cha-cha.

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