Bato dela Rosa

[OPINION] Pusong mamon or pusong bato? Bato dela Rosa and the politician as ham actor

Joey Salgado

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[OPINION] Pusong mamon or pusong bato? Bato dela Rosa and the politician as ham actor

Alejandro Edoria

Senator Bato dela Rosa can’t expect absolution from the President whom he allowed to be maligned in pursuit of a political agenda. I’d like to see how he can cry himself out of this mess.

Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa wants us to believe that the “artista (actors’) bloc” in the Senate – senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Lito Lapid, and Robin Padilla – planned and executed the coup that unseated Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as Senate president. 

By pinning the plot on these celebrities-turned-politicians, Dela Rosa seems to be portraying himself as a member of the bloc. His crying fit during Zubiri’s valedictory even convinced the ousted Senate President of his sincerity and fealty. It also gave Dela Rosa the immortality of a hundred memes. Artista, puwede, even if he is not artistahin.

Zubiri and one of his “seatmate” allies, Senator JV Ejercito, pinned the blame on an unnamed higher authority, even if newly-crowned Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero claimed he alone instigated the ouster play. Then again, some sources said it was an accumulation of personal grievances that made it easy for the plotters to gather the needed signatures. Regardless, Escudero and almost all the senators who voted to remove Zubiri have extolled the virtues of their former chief, portraying him almost as a biblical martyr, perhaps in the mold of Joseph with the technicolor dream coat who was betrayed by his brothers and sold to slavery.

One can assume, with some certainty, that Dela Rosa could just be engaging in time-tested diversion when he named the Senate artistas as the principal actors behind the ouster. With this narrative, he becomes a reluctant accomplice, even if this narrative reveals the core of a man torn superficially between his affinity to a fellow Mindanaoan and the perks of being part of the majority. Guess which one he chose?

No, sir, you are no innocent participant to the beheading of Zubiri, even if, as you admit, the deed was already consummated when you affixed your signature to the ouster manifesto

Zubiri said his only crime was standing by Dela Rosa. “Dumbfounded” and still hurting, he refused to talk to the senator, according to sources. And so did the other members of the “seatmates” bloc. And while the senator from Duterteland styles himself a junior member of the “artista” bloc, its members may have a hard time explaining his membership to the feisty Maricel Soriano, whose name and reputation have been dragged into Dela Rosa’s PDEA Leaks probe

So the senator gets to keep his chairmanship of the committee investigating the supposed “leaks” at the anti-drug agency. Will the investigation continue under Escudero’s leadership? Will the Senate committee continue to parade witnesses like Jonathan Morales, whom the President himself labeled a liar and a jukebox, signaling to the senators his displeasure at the way his name is being muddied and maligned with nary a strong censure from the chair or from the previous Senate leadership?

Morales is not the only so-called witness in a Senate investigation who has been allowed to make false, baseless, defamatory, and hearsay statements against political personalities. Nor was he the only one allowed to present documents of doubtful provenance.

It needs to be said: The Constitution does not authorize the Senate to conduct inquiries to determine criminal liability. The Senate does not have the competence to do so, nor the rules and procedures that will protect the rights of the accused.

So why persist in conducting hearings like the PDEA Leaks? Because these investigation are intended for media consumption.

Media is expected to broadcast and publish every false, defamatory, and hearsay statement against the target personality or personalities. When the target is someone not allied with the incumbent or is seen as a political adversary or threat, such witnesses are given leeway by friendly senators and even the Senate leadership. It’s a different story, however, when the target is the incumbent President and the senator conducting the probe is a partisan of the former president leading the demolition job against his successor. 

De la Rosa said he wanted to get to the bottom of the leaks. Instead, he dug himself a hole he can’t get out of. He can’t terminate the hearings without antagonizing his patron. And he can’t expect absolution from the President whom he allowed to be maligned in pursuit of a political agenda. I’d like to see how he can cry himself out of this mess. –

Joey Salgado is a former journalist, and a government and political communications practitioner. He served as spokesperson for former Vice President Jejomar Binay. This article was first published in

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I prefer to characterize Senator Bato dela Rosa as less of a “pusong mamon” or “pusong bato,” but rather as “pusong hamon.” Like the sensory characteristics of smoked ham, he can be hard or soft to chew, juicy or less juicy, fresh or spoiled, etc. Former Senate President Migz Zubiri initially liked the “ham” because of its juiciness, tenderness, and sweetness but later found it “spoiled.”

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