REP. Tomas Osmeña was disappointed over the failure of the House leadership to give him a vital committee to head even if he is with the administration's Liberal Party.

This was disclosed by his cousin, former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña. Sources said Tomas was given the committee on ecology, a minor committee, but he did not accept it. He was, however, named vice chairman of the committee on appropriations.

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In contrast, Reps. Pablo and Pablo John Garcia of Cebu's second and third district, respectively, were given vital positions. Pablo remains as deputy speaker for the Visayas while Pablo John is chairman of the committee on public order and security.

The Garcias are still with Lakas-Kampi-CMD, which united with the Liberal Party in electing Quezon City Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte as House Speaker.

We can understand Tomas’s sentiments. As a neophyte legislator, he does not know yet the intricacies in Congress where horse-trading and political compromise are the name of the game. Congress is no longer Cebu City where he can impose his whims as leader of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan. It is no longer City Hall where he can shout and “bark” at anyone. The ballgame in Congress is different and he has to toe the line.

In Congress, there are written and unwritten rules. The unwritten rules involve compromises between members and the leadership. Those who want to be Speaker but do not have the numbers have to coalesce with other parties for support in exchange for vital committee chairmanships. That's what the Garcias did.

Another unwritten rule is that first-timers are not given vital committee chairmanship because senior congressmen might get jealous.

As for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, each congressman will get P70 million a year. But there are “insertions” in the budget.

If a legislator is close to the powers-that-be and has the clout, he can get it. That is why veteran legislators, like former congressmen Raul del Mar and Tony Cuenco, secured special funds for their districts, aside from the pork barrel.

Tomas has still to learn the ropes as congressman. In Congress, it’s no longer what Tomas wants, Tomas gets. He is just one of the boys there. He can even be insulted by his colleagues during interpellation.

Believe me, Tomas will eventually get bored in Congress.

(bobby@sunstar.com.ph)