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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Feeling entitled

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“A critic of whatever issue tasked to lead a probe could be dangerous as the post could be used to harass a political or personal opponent through threats of a Senate investigation”

Long absent from any media coverage, returning Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has once again hit the headlines, this time for demanding he be given the chairmanship of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee as a condition for him joining the majority bloc.

According to Cayetano, chairing the powerful blue ribbon committee would be the only reason that would compel him to join the majority as he would want to assume the role of a fiscalizer in the chamber, by leading the panel officially referred to as the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations.

“If no one will fiscalize or very few will do so, or the ones fiscalizing this administration, that would be difficult,” Cayetano was quoted as saying

Oops. I believe those are two different things.

You can be a fiscalizer or a critic of the administration even without chairing the said committee, and you can lead a probe on accountability of public officials even without being a critic.

In fact, a critic of whatever issue being tasked to lead a probe could be dangerous as the post could be used to harass a political or personal opponent through threats of a Senate investigation.

Or to cover up for something the one tasked to lead could be liable for.

Take the case of outgoing Senator Leila de Lima.

Former Senate President Koko Pimentel, in a desperate move to come up with the majority number to install him to the top Senate post, gave the chairmanship of the justice committee to de Lima, whose first order of business was to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

It turned out, however, it was de Lima who was allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade which resulted in the filing of charges against her and her eventual incarceration at the Philippine National Police Detention Center.

If Cayetano really wants to be a critic of the incoming administration, he doesn’t need to chair any committee.

And contrary to his pronouncement, the Senate is not in dire need of a fiscalizer. Does he think the other senators, specifically those in the minority bloc, are inutile?

Aside from Pimentel, what does he think of Senators Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and even his own sister, Pia?

Feeling entitled? Or simply being narcissistic?

Actually, fiscalizing, a term concocted by Filipino politicians, is criticizing, while at the same time examining, managing and offering solutions for a particular issue. And Alan’s objectives, sadly, don’t fall in this equation.

Cayetano’s role, ever since, has been simply to criticize. Take for example his criticism of incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s promise to reduce the retail price of rice to P20 a kilo.

Cayetano, even without consulting experts on the matter, or even studying the issue for himself, simply came out with his guns blazing, firing at BBM for his campaign promise.

“First time ko narining P20 per kilo ang rice. Just like any politician, nasabi ko: Posible ba yun? Anong klaseng pangako yun?” Cayetano said.

However, no less than outgoing Agrarian Reform Secretary Bernie Cruz, said it was viable.

According to Cruz, the price of rice can be reduced even to as low as BBM’s proposed P20 per kilo by implementing collective or block farming through their proposed Mega Farm project.

Based on their studies, Cruz said, not only is the P20-a-kilo-rice achievable, it is also profitable for the agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Cruz explained the plan is to consolidate small farms into mega farms purposely for mass production of rice.

“Like the block farming, the mega farm is a cluster of contiguous farms that is consolidated to form a sizable plantation capable of producing a large volume of farm products to meet the demands of the buyers,” Cruz said.

Cruz added the mega farm should comprise production core with at least 50 hectares of agrarian reform lands in contiguous areas or proximate with one another.

Once the mega farm for rice is started, Cruz said this will lay the groundwork for the intervention of the national government through a dependable support system that include funding for the irrigation, farm-to-market roads, potable water supply, warehouses and storage facilities, greenhouses, input and product distribution sources.

Had Cayetano consulted experts on the matter, he would have found out it was doable.

Actually, I would really want Cruz to be anointed as the next Agriculture Secretary to ensure the implementation of this P20 per kilo rice program or the Programang Benteng Bigas para sa Mamamayan.

But then, it is not in Cayetano’s character. His objective is simply to criticize and thus portray BBM as another politician who promises even the stars and the moon just to gain the voters’ support.

“Anong klaseng pangako yun?” Cayetano quipped on BBM’s proposed P20 per kilo retail price, sounding as if he got the shock of his lifetime.

Sorry to say Senator Cayetano, the only thing that really shocked me and from which I still cannot move on, is your handling of the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

First, you organized the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee which you pushed to lead the organizing of the country’s hosting of biennial event

Taking over the organizing of the SEA Games, Phisgoc reportedly asked PSC to release P59.2 million just for the apparel to be used by the Filipino athletes for the December games.

According to, Phisgoc has commissioned foreign sportswear manufacturer Asics to dress the Filipino athletes to the tune of P41,160 per set of uniform.

The breakdown follows: Polo shirt – P5,150; Roundneck shirt – P2,480; Track jacket – P6,310; Track pants – P7,400; Shorts – P5,100; Sock – P2,700; Backpack – P3,190; Running Shoes – P3,950; and, Cap – P2,400.

And to top it all, a P2,700-pair of socks. And this is of course aside from the P50 million kaldero.

This to me, Mr. Senator, is far more shocking than BBM’s proposed P20 per kilo of rice.

Which then leads me to ask: Senator Cayetano, if ever, in the most unexpected circumstance the Senate majority accommodates you and entrusts you with the chairmanship of the blue ribbon committee, will you reopen the probe on the alleged overpricing SEA Game expenditures?

And would you willingly recommend the filing of charges should anyone be found to be liable for any offense that may be uncovered even if it includes you?

Just asking.


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