By Alex P. Vidal
“Always remember that your calmness under fire is your best defense in any argument or discussion.”—Robert Greene
I HAVE no love lost for a suspected criminal and declared terrorist Arnie Teves, suspended congressman of the third district of Negros Oriental, but I noticed that, so far, he has the “upper hand” in his ongoing verbal joust against his “former boss” and colleague in the House of Representatives, Bacolod City mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.
Of course, Benitez is more credible than the thrash-talking toughie, who remains in hiding since he left the Philippines in February 2023.
By “upper hand” means it seems Teves has managed to convince the public he and Benitez once had a “special” partnership politically and otherwise (including illegal gambling operations, etcetera?).
Illegal gambling may not be shocking for those familiar with Negros politics. It’s the “etcetera” that’s scary. Let’s hope it’s only a mirage.
And when the goings got tough or when push came to shove, Benitez had supposedly ditched him; but (the “problem” is) Teves knew where the bodies were buried, so to speak.
“Ayoko sana na pangalanan kita, pero masyado na akong iniipit… pero boss pakibayaran mo naman ‘yung utang mo sa akin. Maawa ka naman sa pamilya ko (It wasn’t my intention to name you, but I’m already in dire straits. Kindly pay the debt you owe me, boss; have pity on my family.),” Teves appealed to Benitez in a social media video recently.
Instead of answering Teves’ intriguing accusations squarely, all Benitez could say was, “Go home and face your cases.”
Going back to the Philippines is Teves’ “best option,” Benitez said in a press conference.
The mayor lamented: “It’s heartbreaking to be in his situation but that’s the law. There are things that we must abide by, and we cannot bend the law for anyone. If there’s anything that needs to be confiscated, then by all means, it should be done.”
I saw Benitez’s repartee on video and was concerned by his crisp simpers and unnecessary body and hand movements while elucidating something.
It appeared Benitez got rattled and was grappling for words to parry Teves’ loaded assault.
I told myself, “Oh my, can Benitez just explain his point in simple vernacular words or without the highfalutin English?”
I thought the city mayor would be more convincing and devastating if he spoke in Hiligaynon (the dialect both in Negros Occidental and Oriental) instead of delivering it in halted English—unlike Teves who sharply and voluminously pinged him in Tagalog.
Teves, suspected mastermind in the gruesome massacre in Pamplona, Negros Oriental that killed nine people, including Governor Roel Degamo on March 4, claimed he used to act as Benitez’s “bodyguard” saying he was the one who provided for the now city mayor’s helicopter services when the latter was traveling to Mindanao, among other destinations in the countryside.
Teves’ wrath versus Benitez came days after the Anti-Terrorism Council ATC) released a 10-page resolution stating the “Teves Terrorist Group,” supposedly headed by Teves, allegedly created an atmosphere of fear among residents of Negros Oriental, through a series of killings.
NATIONAL CATASTROPHE. When the Philippine Football Team was ousted by powerhouse Norway, 0-6 in its second match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand on July 30, it was accepted by Pinoy fans since it was a World Cup and it was the Philippines’ first participation where the country notched a major win vs host New Zealand, 1-0. But when the US Football Team, a many time World Cup champion, was eliminated by Sweden in the penalty shootout, 4-5, it was like a national catastrophe for the Americans.
BOX OFFICE MOVIE. “Barbie” has raked in $1 billion at the global box office barely three weeks into its run. This makes Greta Gerwig the first solo female director with a billion-dollar movie. Meanwhile, “Oppenheimer” surpassed $500 million over the weekend, setting a new box office record for highest grossing film set during World War II.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)