Domondon: Being in power

Open Season

After the dust settled in the Lower House of Congress former Speaker Congressman Allan Peter Cayetano was replaced by new Speaker of the House Congressman Lord Allan Velasco.

Before everything was settled, initially through a vote of the majority of the members and then subsequently through a so-called plenary vote, Congressman and former Speaker of the House was adamant that he had the vote and favor of 200 members out of the almost three hundred congresspersons in the Lower House. A majority in number which according to representative Cayetano proves his claim that he should still be the Speaker of the House and notwithstanding a previous gentleman’s agreement of a term sharing for the speakership between him and Velasco.

To someone not following closely the events leading up to the change of speakership of the House, one would initially get the impression that Velasco is aggressively undermining the leadership of the Lower House by insisting that he should be the next speaker and that he is trying to move heaven and earth to see that he is installed as soon as possible. In other words from the way congressman Cayetano is laying out the situation it would seem to appear as if congressman Velasco is simply a power grabber bent on replacing the latter through an ostensibly nebulous and murky term sharing agreement forged by President Duterte.

But if we peel away much of the outer coverings of the whole fiasco we realize that the fight over the speakership of the Lower House is really all about power. It is about being the top dog of the house of representatives and the apex influencer as to how legislative direction is to be managed and how the money of the people will be apportioned among the favored districts. This is in a nutshell a power play on who should call the shots in the house of Congress, nothing more and nothing less.

Is this disgusting? Of course! Coming at a time when the country is facing a Covid-19 pandemic our so-called representatives, or their leaders, are fighting it out tooth and nail, to preserve their position and power if only to lay claim to what is essentially one of the centers of power in Congress, the Senate President is the other.

What many do not realize is that during the infighting in the Lower House many vital and priority concerns that needed their attention were nearly waylaid and left to be relegated to the sidelines. One of these is the national budget which the President himself has already designated and declared as a priority bill for Congress to approve. A few days or weeks of delay in the deliberation of the proposed budget bill would certainly harm its early passage and raise the specter of a re-enacted budget, a budget that would severely affect the effective response of the national government against the crisis brought about by Covid-19.

However congressman and former speaker of the house Allan Cayetano would try to justify his acts of suddenly suspending session in the house and scheduling its resumption during the second week of November, disregarding a gentleman’s agreement for term sharing brokered by the president, attempting to resign just to muddle the house proceedings, and claiming through the media that he is still supported by a majority of House members and that they want him to retain the speakership, nothing can erase the suspicion that this was all done to stay in power. The adage power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely seems to apply in this case and woe to the Filipino people who have to suffer because of this foolishness.


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