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FIRING LINE: Duterte losing grip of allies

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

What’s there to wonder if political allies of macho president, Rodrigo Duterte, are now sprinting towards the exit? Seven lawmakers from Duterte’s PDP-Laban party ditched ship this week for Lakas-CMD, led by Speaker Martin Romualdez.

Fueled by Duterte’s scorched-earth critique of the House of Representatives, the exodus paints a grim portrait of a once-unified political force during his Malacanang tenure. Now that the nation has gladly moved past that — refer to former senator Leila de Lima’s release from detention as proof — the Duterte influence has lost its magic pull on politicos.

Of course, he didn’t realize that yet when he defiled congressmen for stripping his daughter, VP Sara Duterte-Carpio, of her confidential and intelligence funds for 2024. So, his unfiltered attack, labeling the House as the “most rotten institution,” triggered a domino effect.

A week since then, four PDP-Laban members swore allegiance to Lakas-CMD, amplifying their disgust at their “Poong Digong” by joining the party of the very man his daughter had referred to as a “tambaloslos” if not her arch-rival.

Notably, the defectors realigned with Romualdez, who defiantly pledged to defend the House against those disparaging its image – a Duterte or not. In this political chess match, Romualdez didn’t mince words, invoking the will of the people as the true moral compass.

The Lakas-CMD, relishing the additions, now boasts 82 members in the House, leaving PDP-Laban in disarray and VP Sara in the dust.

Passports probe on

Last Tuesday, we delved into the illicit acquisition of Philippine passports by Chinese nationals, exposing the sinister web of collusion within government agencies to corrupt the government ID system. Well, Ombudsman Samuel Martires does not mince words as he steps into the passport scandal ring.

No formal complaint is needed — the Ombudsman’s office is diving headfirst into the abyss of passports, TINs, and IDs handed out like party favors to foreigners. This is not Martires’s first rodeo; he’s kicked off investigations motu propio before, like the onion procurement fiasco. Straight-shooting and no-nonsense, Martires declares that if proven true, this passport giveaway violates the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Senate uncovered the tip of the iceberg – 10 foreigners arrested with Philippine passports, thanks to the PSA exposing fake birth certificates.

Expect Martires not to play games. And I believe him. He’s the same ombudsman who asked Congress to scrap the proposed P50-million secret funds for his office for 2024, saying he’d do well without it.

It’s about time someone slapped reality into the passport peddlers and put the fear of the law back in the game. Kudos to Martires for smelling the corruption and going after it with a vengeance. The Ombudsman’s set his sights on justice. Let the reckoning begin.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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