The Perils Senator Poe Faces

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – Sen. Grace Poe, it seems, is becoming more and more of a Cinderella than Icarus. And it buoys her up in the surveys sweepstakes.

Students of literature remember the Greek mythology about Icarus, the son of master craftsman Daedulus, who created wings for him to escape from Crete, a big Greek island. Daedalus warned Icarus first of complacency and hubris, by asking him that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings or the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.

When actress Sheryl Cruz, discouraged her cousin, Senator Poe, from running for president, Cruz was like Daedalus, telling her cousin not to fly too close to the sun or she might end up having a nightmare instead of living a dream.

Actually, Poe’s foray on an unchartered territory is a win-win for her. If she loses, it is still a win for her because aside from engaging the Filipino voters during her national campaign, she could just return to her senate seat. That is, if she is not disqualified due to her citizenship.

In hindsight, Sheryl’s unsolicited advice was well meaning. But it sent an unintended, if not surreal, message that portrayed Sheryl as a jealous Big sister like Cain was to younger Abel.

Indeed, Cruz could even be mistaken for one of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, who deprived Cinderella of trying on the glass slipper she left behind while escaping from the Prince as the clock struck midnight.

Cruz’s very public admonition even painted herself as a natural sister and fueled rumors that Grace was the daughter of the late dictator (President Marcos) by their common mother, former matinee idol Rosemarie Sonora. And that Sheryl’s admonition was not coming from a step cousin but from a blood sister whose feelings border a natural fit of jealousy that drives sibling rivalry.

And how will Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. make a decision on his 2016 presidential elections plans, knowing that he could be up head-to-head against the ticket of his half-sister, Sen. Grace Poe? Will Bong2, out of his filial affection, if not, as a knight in shining armor, be ready to rescue a lady in distress by volunteering his DNA samples to Senator Poe’s to end once and for all the malicious rumor, which could also end her agonizing search for a long-lost biological father? I wonder.

CAN SENATOR POE HANDLE THE TRUTH?

As in my previous column, I didn’t fault Senator Poe if she were a Marcos’ daughter because it was never her fault to be in her shoes in the first place. But I just wanted to find out if the good Senator is ready to handle and face the truth squarely, no matter how embarrassing it might be. As president, Ms. Poe would be a fair game because anything associated to her could affect her decision-making process.

As a keen student of Political Science, Sen. Poe knows that transparency and full disclosure are keys to governing public affairs effectively.

I have a feeling Senator Poe is going to hurdle the question of her citizenship from the Senate Electoral Tribunal and eventually the Supreme Court. But I have one nagging question that I think could pull her down from her Peacock Throne if she were to occupy Malacanang.

On at least a couple of occasions, the truism that “you can choose your friends but not your relatives” clearly reared its ugly heads during the discredited terms of Marcos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

While Marcos had First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, Macapagal-Arroyo had First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

Instead of playing passive roles, both First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo assumed active roles that caused the downfall of their espouses. These dubious distinctions could not be said either of First Lady Meng Ramos nor First Lady Loi Estrada (because of the abbreviated Joseph Estrada presidency) nor of incumbent President Noynoy Aquino because PNoy is a bachelor.

While Imelda became a powerful Cabinet official and Metro Manila governor among others, Arroyo started as “harmless” first First Gentleman but ended up as behind-the-scene wheeler-and-dealer to such multi-million dollar government contracts as $329-million national broadband network contract with the Chinese ZTE Corp. He was among those charged with his wife in this scandal as Imelda was also charged with human rights violations and public thefts by hundreds of human rights victim claimants among a whole hosts of cases.

HUSBAND SHOULD RENOUNCE HIS U.S. CITIZENSHIP AS WELL

The husband of Senator Poe is her high school sweetheart, Teodoro Daniel Misael “Neil” V. Llamanzares. Like Atty. Mike Arroyo, Llamanzares may start as a “harmless” or naïve First Gentleman, if you may, at this point. But like a doting husband, he might sooner or later be engrossed in some political crises that may visit President Poe down the road.

Even if President Poe would publicly declare that she would not give an unsolicited advice of her husband the light of day, I believe, a First Gentleman would just be too human to be emotionally affected by future events that he would do everything to fairly influence her decision. Just ask First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who have been there and done that to their espouses.

And this situation will be magnified if President Poe faces a foreign affairs crisis, namely the Philippine American relationships, where any unsolicited advice from her husband will smack of a conflict-of-interest. Why? While President Poe may have already renounced her U.S. citizenship, her husband, who was reported to be a U.S. Navy officer, even if he had left the U.S. Navy a long time ago, could still be a U.S. citizen, if he has not yet renounced it.

Why? For as long as Llamanzares were U.S. Citizen, his advice, whether unsolicited and solicited to his wife, will never be objective.

This sentiment was shared by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal when he was treating his mother of her cataract, his mother did not trust his expertise. Or just ask a lawyer, who would still retain the services of another lawyer to represent himself in court, instead of appearing himself as pro se in a case.

Even if Llamanzares were to publicly say, “I am going to leave my wife alone in her public decisions,” nobody will buy it because during crises when his wife would struggle to deal with her political survival, his words and actions will be so involved that they will betray him. And he will not be able to help it either.

As First Gentleman, he will be representing President Poe in many social government occasions. Whether he likes it or not, relatives, friends, lobbyists, strangers and influence peddlers will swarm all over him just to gain access to his wife, like what happened to Mike Arroyo and Imelda Marcos.

If he does not renounce his U.S. Citizenship because he is not a candidate running for office, a President Poe should appoint either her son or daughter, who are both Filipino citizens, as her “Official Host” or “Hostess” in government social functions.

Otherwise, a First Gentleman Neil Llamanzares, who is an American citizen, will be a liability and a major Philippine foreign affairs embarrassment.

(jglariosa@hotmail.com)

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