Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror July 25, 2007 edition, p. A6.

At about 10:00 a.m. last Monday, House Secretary General Roberto Nazareno ascended the Speaker’s podium and announced:

“In this corner, wearing rainbow trunks, the five-time champion Joe dey Vey-nethia! In the blue corner, wearing a dour expression, is his challenger Pab-low Garrr-thia! LLLLLET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!”

I had been looking forward to this heavily hyped bout, expecting a real “rumble in the jungle” between champion and challenger. Unfortunately, instead of Pablo going for Joe’s head, Pablo’s corner men went for Nazareno’s.

Joe and Pablo remained seated in their corners while their seconds went at it for four hours—with no Suzette Pido to pass notes to either side telling them to “shut up, shut up!”

The best moment came when it looked like the House Sergeant-at-arms was going to clobber Garcia’s corner man, Didagen Dilangalen, with the Speaker’s mace. Unfortunately, Dilangalen only got a symbolic beating from that lethal weapon-turned- symbol. That was truly disappointing to all those who wanted to see blood spilled, anybody’s.

The championship bout never got underway because Luis Villafuerte, Pablo’s Bundini Brown, cried, “No mas, no mas” instead of boosting his fighter’s spirit with “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, rumble, young man, rumble.”

It was all downhill after Garcia threw in the towel.  Mrs. Arroyo’s fuchsia terno was simply not as uplifting as her outfit last year—Sto. Nino with gold bling-bling but without the little globe in her tiny hand.

Mrs. Arroyo promised her loyal subjects heaping servings of pork until 2010, “The next three years will see record levels of well-thought- out and generous funding.”

She detailed new roads, airports, bridges, and ro-ros but she failed to mention government telecommunications networks.

The oversight must have left DOTC head, Leandro Mendoza, deeply hurt because he spent a lot of time and energy negotiating, and reconstituting, a contract with China’s ZTE to build a broadband network for the government.

Mrs. Arroyo may have overlooked ZTE but she did not forget education. She announced an innovative solution to the classroom shortage.

She said, “We have a scarcity of public high schools but a surplus of private high schools. So instead of building more high schools, we give more high school scholarships.”

Mrs. Arroyo addressed the issue of human rights by telling Congress she needed more power to deal with human rights violators. She asked the legislature to “enact laws to transform state response to political violence.”

Ironically, the lady suffering from a power handicap against human rights violators also said, “From where I sit, I can tell you, a President is always as strong as she wants to be.”

Mrs. Arroyo also talked about electoral reform. She said, “We can disagree on political goals but never on the conduct of democratic elections.”

Frankly, I didn’t understand what she meant. She never would have reached her political goals if democratic elections had been conducted in 2004.

I saw Ombudsgirl Merceditas Gutierrez smile when Mrs. Arroyo mentioned that her conviction rate, excluding Nani Perez, Joc-Joc Bolante, and the Comelec commissioners, “hit 77% this year, from 6% in 2002.”

From where I sat, there were only two things worth remembering about this year’s SONA: Mrs. Arroyo never mentioned charter change and Senator [Antonio] Trillanes was not allowed to attend.

That’s it. I should have played golf.