I THOUGHT that the bitter struggle between Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco for the House speakership had something to do with the supposedly inequitable allocation of public works projects among the congressional districts in the 2021 national budget. It now seems that it is much shallower than that; they’re actually quarreling over who between them should be celebrating his birthday with the title of Speaker wrapped around his waist.
And they have to drag President Rodrigo Duterte into the picture. Or maybe it is only appropriate that the President should intervene even if reluctantly because after all, it was he who brokered the term sharing agreement between the two rivals last year under which Cayetano was to rule the House for 15 months and Velasco, the remaining 21 months.
It does not require genius to count 15 months and 21 months; my five-year-old granddaughter can easily do that. But the two who are both lawyers cannot agree on their computation and so they had to go back to Duterte to help them with the math. Unfortunately, he did not do much help either other than to ask them to honor their agreement.
Cayetano said he would, provided that his term be extended to allow him to celebrate his 50th birthday on Oct. 28 as Speaker. Velasco demurred because he also wanted to be the Speaker by the time he celebrated his birthday on Nov. 9.
Cayetano had made a show of offering his resignation after his and Velasco’s meeting in Malacañang but his fellow congressmen rejected it. He then challenged Velasco to show that he had the numbers to warrant his ascendancy to the House leadership and not simply rely on an agreement even if it was witnessed by no less than the President . Then the other day, Cayetano abruptly suspended the session until Nov. 16. Is it possible that Velasco had already gathered enough commitments from lawmakers to unseat him and, having gotten wind of it, Cayetano prevented any showdown from happening before his birthday?
The suspension was a political masterstroke, even Velasco had to admit that. Cayetano will not only get his birthday wish, he was also able to buy additional time to consolidate his forces. In the meanwhile, we are entertained.
We need that--the entertainment. The World Health Organization (WHO) came out with a real downer in Geneva the other day when it announced that at least 10 percent of the world population may have been infected with the coronavirus. That’s roughly 760 million people on the face of the earth, more than 20 times the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases recorded by the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in its dashboard.
Note that the WHO used the words “may have been infected,” not “may be infected” when they gave their “best estimates” on the current Covid-19 situation in the world. The only reassuring thing that you can gather from the otherwise bleak assessment is that a huge majority of the 760 million cases worldwide were mild and mostly asymptomatic ones.
Still, the announcement is shocking. The WHO is not a fly-by-night organization so they must have studied their percentages. What is even more worrisome is their prediction of a surge taking place in Southeast Asia. Although my Frankahay Ta co-anchor Titus Borromeo correctly pointed out that under the WHO map, we are not in the Southeast Asian Region but in the Western Pacific (an aberration, very clearly), we happen to have the highest number of cases in our division and third behind India and Bangladesh in Southeast Asia.
And what are the top three countries behind us? China, Japan and Singapore, none of which had cases higher than 91,000 plus. In fact, if you add up the number of cases in these three countries, the aggregate is way below our tally of 326,833 as of Oct. 6.
And to think that the Covid-19 originated in Wuhan. Sigh.