TAGUIG Rep.Alan Peter Cayetano is continuing to hold on to the post of Speaker even if he is fast losing the numbers to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco in the House of Representatives. To prevent their ouster from their leadership posts, Cayetano and his “gang” maneuvered to prevent the holding of a session on Oct. 14, the scheduled showdown date by postponing the holding of further sessions to November. As a result, deliberations on the country’s budget next year was cut short.
Political maneuvering was a feature of the waning years of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos when he strove to show to an international audience that we had a functioning democracy. Which only shows the mindset of Cayetano, who wants to succeed Duterte in 2016. If he is doing this as House Speaker, the possibility is high that he would be doing this if--knock on wood--he becomes president.
The maneuvering by Cayetano and his gang at the House is apparently a sign of desperation. They apparently have lost the confidence when they talked with a swagger weeks before this, which only means that they have realized that they are losing ground. What they failed to reckon is the political backlash resulting from it.
Cayetano and his gang was able to do it partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The “protocols” mean that online sessions would be favored instead of actual sessions. Only 25 congressmen are allowed inside the session hall, making it easy to maneuver by Cayetano and his gang. As for online sessions, a Velasco ally already claimed his audio was “muted.”
Duterte’s refusal to, sort of, take the bull by the horn is also baffling. Duterte said he wants the agreement that he brokered to be respected. That agreement allows Velasco to take over the post of House Speaker this month. Cayetano now wants that agreement set aside because the House majority does not want Velasco to take over.
Cayetano’s maneuvering actually shows a lack of respect for the President, whom some politicians now consider as “lameduck” because a new chief executive is set to assume in 2022. But he is also testing the patience of the President, who still largely controls Congress. By the way, his daughter Sara’s silence on the matter is surprising. Sara, whom many believe will run for president in 2022, is a Velasco supporter.
Then you have Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, whose statements are as confusing as the stance of the President on the matter. To me, he actually sounds like a Cayetano supporter. Roque is a former congressman but I don’t know where his loyalty lay at that time or if he rubbed elbows with Cayetano.
There are actually people who don’t consider the House Speakership row as important. I partly agree because whoever will win, we will still be confronted with the same kind of House of Representatives. And those congressmen will still be playing to President Duterte’s baton. But it does help for us to know the character of the personalities involved in the conflict.