Friday, July 19, 2019

Seares: Sitoy survived Alvarez. New threat comes from Senate chief Tito Sotto.

News Sense

THE publicized complaint of Sen. Vicente Sotto III against PLLO or Presidential Legislative Liaison Office for not functioning must perk up interest of Cebuanos.

PLLO is led by former Cordova, Cebu mayor Adelino Sitoy, the only Cebuano with the rank of secretary in the Duterte government. Or one of two Cebuanos, if Michael Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, also holds the same rank.

Sitoy might lose his job and thus Cebu might become more under-represented in the higher echelon of government. The province and its eight cities don’t even have a senator anymore.

“Meron palang PLLO?”

What is Sitoy’s alleged fault or omission?

Sotto incidentally claims to have Cebu roots, especially when he seeks elective office, but is seen as less of a Cebuano than a Manileno: He grew up and was raised in Manila. He has not embraced Cebu as much as many natives here would want.

The Senate president Monday (Feb. 18) blamed the PLLO for bills vetoed by the president, notably the recent veto of the coco levy fund and a provision in the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, which would’ve granted amnesty to people who failed to pay correct taxes in 2017 and the years before. Asked if Secretary Sitoy should be replaced, Sotto reportedly said, “Huh! Meron palang PLLO?” He said he would leave to Duterte the fate of Sitoy.

No signals

Sotto’s beef was that the Senate was not getting information on what the president thinks about the bills when they were still being shaped so the lawmakers could fit them to his wishes. Or so it must be, since both chambers are controlled by the ruling party alliance.

In sum, no need for Duterte to veto anything since he can just relay his orders on legislation through PLLO. But then Sotto probably didn’t know the president’s game. Maybe Duterte wanted to allow the Senate and the House elbow room so as not to picture them as rubber stamp or stamp pad, whichever simile is apt, through the PLLO or other channels from Malacanang,

Sotto can get the signals he needs. And he may think it’s not his job to seek out the order from up.

Not first threat

This is not the first threat on Sitoy’s Malacanang post. In 2017, then House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wanted to take back Sitoy’s office space at the Batasan, which House watchers interpreted to include his title as PLLO chief. Alvarez questioned the usefulness of Sitoy’s office, saying “we have liaison with the Palace anyway.”

Alvarez saw no need for the PLLO while Sotto thinks the PLLO has not been doing its job. Let’s watch Sitoy cope with this. He survived Alvarez; maybe he will, with Sotto from, ah, Cebu.


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