Waiting for first punch to land past midnight

By Alex P. Vidal

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”— Ernest Benn

LIKE an owl hunting for small mammals at night, I stayed up late in front of the TV screen on January 6 (Friday) until past 12 midnight on January 7 (Saturday).

I waited for the first punch to be thrown from any of the tired, weary and angry Republican lawmakers as the 118th US Congress extended its record-breaking voting for the speaker after a lung-busting 14th voting.

In addition, like in the violent melees in the parliaments in Taiwan, Armenia, and Jordan, I waited for chairs and tables to fly and for some pompadoured and those in coat and tie members of congress getting knocked out.

I had a hunch, based on ugly events that transpired three days earlier when the chaotic marathon voting began, that lips would be busted right there on the floor of that august chamber.

Thank God, there was none.

Several “arsonists”—known as ultra right GOP members—had been responsible why the voting dragged on for several days by continuing to rebuke and vote against GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.

They were the same troublemakers who have been promoting and magnifying former President Donald Trump’s election lies and conspiracy theories.


But before McCarthy finally nailed it in a dramatic and tension-filled 15th voting at past midnight, I nearly got what I was waiting for: sixty-four-year-old Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) moved toward a group of GOP lawmakers and lunged at forty-year-old Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) warning him “he would be finished” for continuing to wreck McCarthy’s election for speakership.

This was it: the actual tension and dramatic, the episode that brought every member of the House of Representatives from both sides (Democrats and Republicans) on the edge of their seats.

If Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina) didn’t physically restrain the visibly furious Rogers, he would have ripped apart Gaetz and, I would’ve gotten what I was waiting for.

No blood was spilled; no chair and table went flying; no congressman fell flat from an uppercut but, at least, I was able to watch the action “live”— my “reward” for staying up late past midnight.

I checked the front page of New York Times on January 7 and the paper that carries a slogan, “All The News That’s Fit To Print”, failed to report the tumult which was understandable since it occurred at past deadline period for newspapers around the world.


I don’t consider as “news” the report that the Las Piñas City court has acquitted the eldest son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla of drug possession charges.

This is something that about 90 percent of Filipinos had already anticipated to happen, thus it’s “no longer” news.

It didn’t surprise us. What’s new? It can be an earthshaking report for those not familiar with a political padrino mentality and connections in the Philippines, but many of us weren’t shocked.

Of course we aren’t saying that the father resorted to arm-twisting tactics to save the son. But we don’t need to stress what is obvious.

It’s news when Juanito Jose Remulla III, 38, was convicted and given a jail term. It’s news when he was transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

Simple analysis lang: In the Philippines, what will happen to the career of prosecutors—and even the judge, to some extent—if Remulla III, namesake and son of the most powerful person in the Department of Justice, was convicted?

The son, who pleaded not guilty, was charged by the Las Piñas City Regional Trial Court (RTC) 197 with possession of 900 grams of kush or high-grade marijuana leaves amounting to P1.3 million.

He was arrested at his home on Talon Dos, Las Piñas City, on October 11, 2022 during a “controlled delivery operation” carried out by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group.

Oh, yes, only in the Philippines.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)