By Ben Rosario
There was nothing serious about the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) victory party even though President Duterte was seen “arresting” former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the current House speaker, for supposed insubordination at a Makati hotel Monday night.
With the country’s top political leaders standing as witnesses, Duterte placed Arroyo under arrest by tying up her hands with a ribbon for refusing to heed his request to choose for him the next leader of the House of Representatives.
But the arrest was all for fun.
It all started when the President asked the incumbent Speaker to choose for him the next House leader.
When Arroyo playfully rejected Duterte’s request, the Chief Executive threatened to have her apprehended for insubordination. Still, the former president refused, prompting Duterte to ask the help of incoming Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who shared the dinner table with them, in apprehending Arroyo.
The occasion was the HNP “thanksgiving party” hosted by party chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for the country’s top political leaders who helped nine of 13 HNP senatorial bets win in the May polls.
In her opening remarks at the party, Mayor Duterte lauded the invited guests for their efforts in campaigning for the 13 candidates.
“Kayong lahat po ang reason kung bakit nanalo ang majority sa mga senators na tinulungan ng HNP (You are the reason majority of the senators backed by HNP won),” the presidential daughter declared. She then enjoined the guests to celebrate with no worries, stressing that there should be “no wins or loses, no rivalries or work, just songs and refreshments, nothing serious.”
Duterte and his daughter set the mood for the night by singing tunes they dedicated to each other and to the mayor’s mother, Duterte’s estranged wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Duterte belted out “Wind Beneath my Wings” for his daughter then followed it up with the sentimental love song
“Ikaw”, this time dedicating the rendition to Elizabeth.
“I love you Elizabeth Zimmerman,” the chief executive professed at the end of his performance.
With emcee Giselle Sanchez’s prodding, Mayor Duterte performed “Bed of Roses”. She was later joined on stage by a bevy of guests that included Senator-elect Imee Marcos, former North Cotabato Gov. Lala Talino-Mendoza, incoming Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, Bacoor Mayor Lani Merdcado-Revilla, Leyte Rep. Yedda Romualdez, and presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
Another batch of singing politicians went up the stage to perform. Among them were re-elected Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Senator-elect Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, and re-elected Senator Sonny Angara, and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco.
Many of the guests were expecting President Duterte to advance his announcement of his personal choice for speaker of the Lower House which was originally scheduled on June 28.
Eagerly awaiting the presidential decision were Velasco, Romualdez, and Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig.
Also present in the event were Senators-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, Francis Tolentino, Marcos, Pia Cayetano, and re-elected Senator Cynthia Villar, who came with husband, former Senate President Manuel Villar, their children, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and incoming Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar.
Losing HNP bets, Maguindaano Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu and former journalist Jiggy Manicad, were also spotted, so were 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero, House Deputy Speaker Munir Arbison, Reps. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Mark Sambar of PBA Partylist and outgoing House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, now Quezon governor, who was joined by his children, incoming Rep. JayJay Suarez, and his wife, Rep. Anna Villaraza-Suarez.