'Frat war' erupts between Drilon, Gordon during Senate budget deliberations

FRIENDLY FIRE. Senators Frank Drilon and Richard Gordon tease each other over their fraternities.

FRIENDLY FIRE. Senators Frank Drilon and Richard Gordon tease each other over their fraternities.

It was a friendly "war" between two fraternities on Thursday, December 6, during the Senate deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

During his interpellation on the budget of state universities and colleges, Senator Richard Gordon praised University of the Philippines (UP) president Danilo Concepcion, saying he's good and bright.

After Gordon's turn, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon took to the floor and jokingly pointed out that Gordon is partial to Concepcion, who is his "brod" in the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity. Concepcion earlier drew flak for attending the Kabataang Barangay reunion with Imee Marcos. (READ: U.P. history department slams president's attendance at Marcos event)

"Mr President, I observed that while the good Senator Gordon was interpellating, he said the president of UP is very good, very bright, etc, and I agree with that. I just have one question. What is the fraternity of the UP president, fraternity affiliation? If I recall correctly, Upsilon Sigma Phi," said Drilon, eliciting laughter from people in the gallery.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, sponsor of the CHED budget, replied: "I believe that is correct, your honor."

"And the fraternity of Senator Gordon is Upsilon Sigma Phi also….The credibility factor is the one I am bringing to," a teasing Drilon said.

Drilon and Angara are members of a rival group – Sigma Rho fraternity.

Aside from Gordon, Senator Francis Pangilinan is also a member of Upsilon.

Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, from Sigma Rho, was appointed by an Upsilonian, referring to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Gordon riposted.

"You know, Mr President, I was once asked by a Sigma Rhoan by the name of Juan Ponce Enrile when I was still a young man, and he said, 'Are you from UP?' 'Yes, sir.' 'I want you to join my law firm when you graduate. What are you?' 'I'm Upsilon, sir,'" Gordon said.

Enrile supposedly replied, "Oh, I'm a Sigma Rhoan and was appointed by an Upsilonian to advise him."

"I said, 'Mr Secretary, you still need an appointment to appoint you, that's why you have a job,'" Gordon jokingly said.

Upsilon drew flak from the UP community following the so-called #LonsiLeaks, a series of leaked screenshots of group chats attributed to alleged members of the fraternity. (READ: From walkouts to dismantled banners, UP community protests frat-related violence)

Turning serious, Gordon talked about the UAAP men's basketball finals between the UP Fighting Maroons and the Ateneo Blue Eagles, and how it has fostered "a sense of community."

"But you know the nice thing about it, I'm sure Senator Drilon would agree, in UP we tend to be very, very tribal. But the last few nights, we now have a sense of country and community," Gordon said.

"And if you look at Facebook, social pages' interventions, I'm proud to be a University of the Philippines graduate," said Gordon, who got his college degree from Ateneo before finishing law in the state university. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com