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A House held hostage

"The Palace controls the purse from which lawmakers get money for funding infrastructure projects for their districts and constituents."

 

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over—so goes the old saying about hotly contested matches either in sports or politics.

It appears that the term-sharing agreement for the House speakership between Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco has been successfully brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte. But there are still rumblings from some congressmen that the term-sharing deal between the two deprived the House of the right to choose their own leaders.

The situation in the House seems like the similar intrigues and machinations in the US TV series “House of Cards” where actor Kevin Spacey played American President Frank Underwood. He played his cards in the most cunning and duplicitous manner to rise to power and stay on top.

What is going on in the House political jockeying is somewhat similar to the “House of Cards” except that here, unlike the fragile White House plot, it is the House of Representatives that is held hostage by the power brokers at the Palace with President Duterte pulling the strings. The politicians in the lower chamber are left with no choice because the Palace controls the purse from which congressmen get money for funding infrastructure projects for their districts and constituents.

Velasco, we are told by some congressmen, is not too pleased that Duterte disciple Cayetano got the first part of the House speakership term although his hold at the Speakership term is slightly longer. Then, there is the possibility that Cayetano, once he has had a taste of power, might not want to let go of the speakership when his share of the term is up.

There are also the chairmanships of the various key committees Cayetano would give his supporters. They too, for sure, will not want to give up the chairmanships of these committees. These are the unsettling repercussions of having a term-sharing speakership.

The House, which to some may not seem as important as the Senate, is nonetheless an important part of the legislative branch. This is where the impeachment process is initiated. The House Speaker, under the constitutional succession to the presidency, is No. 4—after the Vice President and the Senate president. Is it any wonder why congressmen are vying tooth and nail for the post, not to mention the money and perks that go with the job?

Meanwhile the United Nations resolution filed by Iceland in the UN Human Rights Council continues to draw controversy with several politicians calling for the severance of diplomatic relations with that country, This, for sponsoring the resolution in the UNHRC that called for an inquiry into the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspects in President Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drug trafficking.

So, what is the Philippines going to do now? Aside from breaking diplomatic ties with Iceland, are we going to also cut ties with the countries that voted for the resolution? Signs of this isolation from the international community were evident last July 14 Bastille Day of France wherein the Department of Foreign Affairs appeared not to send a single DFA official on purpose to the national day celebration of France at the French ambassador’s residence in Forbes Park. The absence of a single DFA official at the event was so conspicuous that many of the ambassadors present were asking why. But the answer to that diplomatic snub was quite obvious.

France, one of Europe’s leading countries which espouses freedom and human rights, was one of the nations that voted for the Icelandic resolution. We can expect the DFA to do the same—give the cold shoulder to Iceland on its national day.

There were at least 14 countries that voted for the Icelandic UN resolution. Are we going to cut diplomatic relations with them, too? This is isolating the Philippines from the community of nations that would leave us with ties only to China. That would go against the President’s policy to diversify our diplomatic relations.

North Korea, with its aggressive and abrasive approach, has isolated itself with strong ties only to China and Russia and probably Iran in what is shaping up as an alignment of forces between the West and rogue states in the East.

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , House of Representatives , Congress , House speakership , Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano , Rep. Lord Alan Velasco , House of Cards ,
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