"Who’s organizing a seminar for neophyte lawmakers?"



It seems vote-buying for the Speakership has just been institutionalized.

Whereas the camp of Taguig Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano has been reportedly accusing returning Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of massive vote-buying for the House Speakership, the former senator who was President Rodrigo Duterte’s running mate in 2016 might just have resorted to such—only his version might just be more shrewd. reported that Cayetano, along with the support of Congressmen Ronnaldo Zamora of San Juan and Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales of Mandaluyong, will host a seminar for neophyte lawmakers at the Quezt Hotel in Clark, Pampanga tomorrow, Tuesday. While the report did not mention who will foot the bill, it was obvious the move is in line  with Cayetano’s positioning for the Speakership race as the schedule of his sponsored seminar is said to run in conflict with a seminar of the same kind to be hosted by the secretariat of the House of Representatives, which will start today, Monday.

Interestingly, Cayetano, a former Cabinet secretary, will be joined by some Cabinet members including Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III.

Among the expected topics in the Cayetano seminar are Parliamentary Procedures and the Traditions of Congress, and the Fundamentals of the Budget Process from which will be given a career undersecretary from the Department of Budget and Management.

And that, according to sources, is the shrewd part of the Cayetano-seminar as Villar, Tugade, Dominguez and the DBM representative will play crucial roles in the budgeting for the neophyte solons’ representation, either districts or sectors, for next year and the supplementary budget the 18thcongress is expected to tackle once it opens session in July.

Thus, the neophyte solons, according to sources, might be held hostage and be forced to express support for the Taguig lawmaker, otherwise, the threat of having zero budget in case Cayetano wins the speakership without their support.

This bullying tactic, according to the source is not even new as this was the same tactic allegedly employed by former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez who was said to have threatened solons of a zero budget for their representation should they refuse to support his agenda.

I don’t think however this work this time as the lawmakers have already learned their lessons under Alvarez, which eventually led to his ouster. Congress doesn’t need another astute leader.

* * *

Staged collision?

While we were all sympathetic to the crew of the Filipino fishing boat supposedly rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel, recent development somehow indicates the report was far from accurate.

Yesterday, Philippine Star reported the boat made its way to Mindoro Oriental with its catch intact.

But didn’t Richard Heydarian reported the fishing boat sank, even showing photos of the ill-fated boat and crew waiting to be rescued?

Well, it turned out the photos were from another incident, that of a boat being sunk near the coast of Palawan last year at the height of a storm.

In fact, statements coming from Chinese authorities claim it was the Filipino fishing boat, together seven or eight other boats, which provoked the incident.

“China’s preliminary investigation shows: at 2400 hours on June 9, 2019, “Yuemaobinyu 42212”, a Chinese fishing boat from Guangdong Province, China, engaged in a light purse seine operation, was berthed at the vicinity of Liyue Tan (Reed Bank) (116 ° 40 ‘E, 11 ° 35’ N) of the Nansha Qundao. It was suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats. During evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat, and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” China’s official statement read.

“The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats. Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene. The above shows that there is no such thing as hit-and-run.”

We have seen how the critics of this administration have staged acts just to project the government of selling the country to China, like the staged selling of Chinese flags to coincide with the celebration of Philippine independence. An alleged photo of Pinoy Ako blogger Jover Laurio behind a man putting up a streamer declaring the Philippines as a province of China has also gone viral. A  car running on the road carrying a similar streamer which betray the act as being instigated by the same group behind the staged actions has also been making the rounds of social media.

It’s high time the government initiated an investigation on these acts. If the collision was really intentional on the part of the Chinese, then we should file a diplomatic protest. But if that was really staged, appropriate charges should be initiated against those responsible. Their greed for power could push us to the brink of war.

As the Chinese Embassy says, their “side attaches great importance to China-Philippines friendship and safety of life at sea, and will continue to properly handle this issue with the Philippines in a serious and responsible manner. The two sides are maintaining close communication through diplomatic channels.”

The government should seriously look into this case.

Topics: Charlie Manalo , Shrewd , vote-buying , House Speakership , Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano , Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez , Rep. Lord Allan Velasco
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