POLITICS in our country is sometimes downright funny but often it's outrageous and shameful. Look what's happening in the Lower House. Since the soon to be ex-Speaker of the House Peter Alan Cayetano doesn't want to honor his "gentleman's agreement" in sharing the Speaker's term with Cong. Lord Allan Velasco that President Rodrigo Duterte brokered in July 2019, the 189 representatives conducted their session outside the Halls of Congress and elected Velasco as the new Speaker of the House.
Velasco's election was unnecessary, said Cebu City North District Cong. Raul del Mar, who supported Velasco, because there was an agreement between them.
"Fake session" says Cayetano when the 189 representatives, including our three Cebuano representatives, elected Velasco over his place. Cagayan de Oro Cong. Rufus Rodriguez, a legal luminary, defended the session outside of Batasang Pambansa as "constitutional, valid, necessary and will correct the unconstitutional suspension of the session."
Under the term-sharing agreement that President Duterte arranged in July 2019 after the midterm elections to keep his allies in the Lower House intact, Cayetano will serve the first 15 months until today and Velasco will take over the post for the next 21 months of the 18th Congress. The problem is that Cayetano was not gentleman enough to honor the agreement.
After an audience with President Duterte, Cayetano on September 30 made so much drama by offering to resign that his allies rejected after his emotional speech sugarcoated with threats. Today, per agreement, Cayetano will hand down to Velasco the speakership. Perhaps, sensing that Velasco's group would force him out of office by today, he ordered the early suspension of the session before the 2021 national budget could be approved.
Cayetano's untimely suspension of the session that many described as irregular got the attention of President Duterte, who issued a public statement on television coupled with the issuance of Proclamation 1027 calling for a special session of the Lower House on October 13 to 16 to ensure the passage of HB 7727, the General Appropriations Bill for 2021. He wryly said, he was not making any threat.
On Monday, before the Lower House could conduct the special session yesterday (October 13) as directed by President Duterte, the 189 representatives converged at Celebrity Sports Plaza and held a session and then elected Velasco as Speaker of the House. Cayetano must have forgotten the "golden rule" to never cross path with President Duterte, who still loves to be addressed "mayor."
Just a perhaps. Cayetano must have been tanked-up by the powers, privileges and influences that a Speaker of the House possesses that he forgot there is still a powerful man setting in Malacanang watching over him and despite of his age has not forgotten the deal or term-sharing that he arranged for him and Velasco, who are gentlemen but nevertheless still are politicians.
Senate President Tito Sotto was even annoyed by Cayetano's claims faulting the Upper House that if ever there would be delayed in passing and approving the General Appropriations Act of 2021 when some senators expressed concern of having a reenacted budget after Cayetano unceremoniously ordered and his minions approved the suspension of the session in the Lower House while the budget is still under deliberation.
I'm not a friend of Velasco neither a foe of Cayetano. But given the underlying circumstances and to better serve us as we are still enduring from the severe effect of this Covid-19 pandemic, Cayetano should hand in peacefully the post to Velasco as he agreed to it before the President. This would also save face for Cayetano since most Filipinos disapproved his action.