AT FIRST glance, the term-sharing agreement between Senators Franklin Drilon and Manuel Villar seems a very good solution to their bickering.

Last time I checked, the President of the Senate gets elected by a majority vote of its members. Of course, both legislators have their plans, but with all due respect, they miss the point.

Even if the administration senators’ number makes sure the Senate President will come from their group, that doesn’t give them the right to play around with the post. The purpose of the election is to choose one, not share the position.

Never mind that the administration bloc has the Senate Presidency in the bag. But we mind that the agreement reeks of disagreement within its ranks, reminiscent of the failure of the opposition candidates to unite under one banner in the last election. The comparison is not that far off the mark. The Presidency of the land cannot possibly be shared, even if the entire nation votes for two candidates from the opposition. Ditto with the Senate presidency.

Now we know that there are two aspirants, from the same side, for the Senate Presidency. Now we know that there is one who will closely watch the first Senate President during the latter’s term, and himself be closely watched. We cannot assume that their plans are two parts of the same story. That is never the case in Philippine politics. Both aspirants have their respective ambitions. The consequences can be disastrous not only for the upper house; the entire country stands to suffer from the suspicious truce.

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But everyone has to be pleased. That is evident in a country whose people can dictate the outcome of a “telenovela”. Never mind that it is not policy, if it is popular. In the case of the Senate, never mind that it will speak poorly about the senators’ capacity to back down in favor of the national interest, if personal ambitions and interests will be served.

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Speaking of pleasing everybody, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not giving any clues to her decision on the hostage crisis in Iraq. Earlier, she has declared that the country’s troops would stay in Iraq until August 20, as scheduled.

But as of this writing, her alter ego in Iraq, foreign undersecretary Rafael Seguis, had told Iraqi television that the Philippine contingent would withdraw “as soon as preparations allow it.” So far, no confirmation has come from the President, who has a penchant for changing her mind at a whim.

Arguably, the crisis is testing her strength as leader of the nation. As of yesterday, the clamor for the withdrawal of the troops (what are Philippine troops doing there, anyway?) in exchange for Angelo dela Cruz’s life has blown up to become rallies that had to be shot with water cannons just to be disciplined. On the one hand are the people, led by no less than teary-eyed members of the Dela Cruz family. On the other are the nations with whom Macapagal-Arroyo made a pact with in the so-called war against terror. From a different angle, it is a dilemma of whether to cow to terrorists and risk their enlightened smirks at her leadership, and giving in to one family’s unfortunate plight, borne ultimately of poverty which the government has admittedly failed to address significantly.

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But let’s face it. We cannot please everybody. And in such cases, the general welfare becomes the standard, and must be heeded. It is, after all, the supreme law.

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