Gentlemen’s agreement
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I don’t think Congress needs to focus, much less discuss and potentially vote on what will happen to the “Speaker of the House” position. There was already a pre-existing “gentlemen’s agreement” between current Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Representative Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque. That should be enough. 

Between the two congressmen the agreement they made, sanctioned by no less than the President himself, was that Rep. Cayetano would hold the Speaker position for the first 15th months of the 18th Congress while Rep. Velasco would take over the remaining. It’s a done deal and not one that needs to be examined further.

It’s interesting that they came to a decision so amicably and there is no doubt that the President’s involvement, at the time, proved instrumental toward  making the agreement work. Both congressmen are friends of his and I’m sure he wanted to see a mutually beneficial arrangement between them. All that’s left now is that they honor their word.

I think that is what the other solons are most concerned about and why they keep pestering the current Speaker. For his part, Cayetano has tried to keep the focus on the work they have to do in the next 15 months as opposed to who is going to be the Speaker after that time.

He was quoted saying that he fully intends to honor his agreement and that he chooses not to dwell on the future when there are so many pressing matters to see to in the present. He even said he prefers not to make any more statements about what will happen in 15 months because he has no clue what things will look like then. For all he knows “Congressman Velasco may not even want to be Speaker anymore by then or I may have done all I needed to do in less than 15 months and be finished.”

Understandably Speaker Cayetano wants to get to work instead. That makes sense to me. I always wonder why our politicians waste so much time wondering who has power and who is going to get power as opposed to just actually doing their jobs.

Hopefully, this will be the last we hear of this and the House finally gets down to work. As the Speaker said – there is much to be done and not a lot of time to do it.

*      *      *

The President has made a lot of promises in the past. In fact, he continues to reiterate that many of these promises are still going to be met. One of them was raising the salary for those that truly deserve it – like policemen, the army, and even teachers and nurses.

I truly believe that our teachers and nurses deserve a raise. They work so hard and they aren’t being compensated fairly and in the process, we are losing so many of them that have no choice but to leave the country in search of better pay and better prospects abroad. I believe that if they had another choice they would want to stay here with their family and loved ones.

Lack of opportunities and fair pay and benefits has been the bedrock of the overseas worker’s community for years. Filipinos have no choice but to leave the Philippines in search or greener pastures and ways to be able to support the families they leave behind. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow just look after and nurture these talents here at home?

There is hope on the horizon. I just hope it pans out. According to the news, the salary upgrade for nurses is slated to take effect next year and would raise their base entry salary from P20,000+ to P30,000+. This would make a difference in the lives of Filipino nurses who are recognized as some of the hardest working in the world. I hope they are able to implement this soon and cut through all the red tape.

As for teachers, many public teachers are asking for the same type of increase as nurses stating at P30,000 is a basic minimum wage to be able to cover basic living expenses. They shared that teachers’ salaries have remained stagnant throughout the years even as cost of living has skyrocketed. I can’t blame them, in the past two years alone basic necessities have increased so much that it’s been hard for everyone to keep up.

Here’s hoping we find a solution for everyone. I’ve often said it’s just a matter of budgeting. There is such a huge wealth divide in the Philippines I’m convinced that there is money there, it’s just not being dispenses properly.

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