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House of Clowns strikes again

Power begets power.

Exactly what is happening at the House of Representatives where the speakership war gets more attention than the national budget, warranting the president himself to go public Thursday night and issue a veiled threat to end the leadership squabble or he will end it himself – his way.

With the country in an emergency health crisis and the economy in turmoil, the house of clowns were busy coddling up to whoever holds the purse, forgetting the bigger problem we face.

It was a charade with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano at the center, filibustering against his opponent, Lord Allan Velasco, and supported by his co-clowns who rejected his resignation and denying the shared leadership agreement they entered into.

I don’t like either of them because we all know it will be the same intramurals anyway, but I really hope Velasco gets the seat if only to put an end to Cayetano’s shameful acts. Plus, to honor a gentleman’s agreement may just show that there’s some decency left in Congress after one disgraceful act after another.

In fact, I had the impression that Cayetano got his way after he was supported by the clowns in that moro-moro in congress, right after meeting the president with Velasco and their allies in tow. After all, the president did not rebuke the House after that rejection of Cayetano’s resignation

However, not contented with his victory and wanting to play-up the event, I think Cayetano went overboard when he suspended the session last Tuesday and issued a recess till November 16 which may ensue into a re-enacted budget for next year and this got the president’s ire.

Some are saying Cayetano was pushed to the wall after hearing rumors that Velasco may be able to get the numbers before the supposed turnover of shared leadership next week.

Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya does not want to comment on the leadership row but agrees with the president that Congress needs to resume budget deliberations and whatever conflict they have right now must be set aside for more imperative issues.

In fact, Greg said that even before the president’s announcement, his party, the National People’s Coalition, has submitted a manifesto calling for the resumption of session and prioritize the passage of the budget.

What seems ironic is that even the Visayan bloc which has 44 members are not united anymore in this issue. Under the leadership then of former Rep. Albee Benitez, this bloc had a voice in Congress. But I guess with Albee gone, nobody took the helm thus the bloc is in disarray as well.

And I guess Cayetano knows how to play his cards well pitting one visayan over another. He recently gave the deputy speaker post to Capiz 2nd District Rep. Fredenil Castro from partylist Rep. Michael Romero. He also stripped Ilonggo Rep. Sharon Garin of her chairmanship of the economic affairs committee and replaced her with another Ilonggo, Aklan Rep. Ted Haresco.

Of course Romero and Garin expected that move as they were with Velasco as his supporters in that meeting with the president. To feign getting hurt now of these developments is a bit laughable. What is even ironic is how handlers of these axed congressional representatives are asking ABS-CBN reporters if they can share their boss’ sentiments in the various platforms made available to the giant network.

These are the same people who voted not to renew the franchise of the network but probably realize that ABS-CBN continues to enjoy a huge following in the digital platforms they are in and soon, in a free channel as well.

What goes around, comes around and it will be interesting how this will pan out in the next few days. Of course, it may not be over for Cayetano who immediately assured the president that the budget will be passed in time and apologized to Duterte and the nation for “adding anxiety to an already uncertain situation.”

“We welcome the President’s stern warning to all parties to stop all the politicking as it could jeopardize the welfare of our fellow citizens at this critical time,” Cayetano said, which really sounds so false coming from him because if there is one person who is politicking and using his position to rally the clowns around, it is him.

If Cayetano will order a resumption of session, there is a chance he may redeem himself with the president and probably, that stern warning was just Duterte’s way to remind the speaker that he does not enjoy infinite power at the end of the day.

If that happens, then we are mere spectators in this grand charade. Nowadays, to be tagged as “honourable” has become disdainful.*

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September 2021

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