Time to shift to a parliamentary gov’t

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Call it a brief skirmish in Congress, but finally it ended when Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano was forced to relinquish his post last Tuesday after weeks of sustained attacks against his successor, now Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, but not after making attempts to sabotage the latter’s official proclamation.

Before he resigned, the embattled House leader and his allies closed all the entrance doors of the plenary hall of the House of Representatives, thereby forcing Velasco’s allies to force them open and proceed with their ratification of his election as Speaker. By noontime of Tuesday, Rep. Cayetano had been asking his supporters to back President Duterte’s call for the chamber to fast-track the passage of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, which he deliberately stalled last week by unilaterally suspending sessions until Nov. 16.

In trying to ensure that his reputation isn’t tarnished to the ground, Rep. Cayetano said, “I love this institution. I’ve been here since 1998. I’ve faced many Goliaths,” he warned the Velasco camp, whom he even described as “saboteurs.” Saboteurs? Come now… wasn’t there a deal that Cayetano struck with Lord Velasco for a power sharing deal, which he no longer wanted to honor? “If you are bent on destroying and burning down the House, I will not allow you to burn this House down. Remember that!” Cayetano vehemently declared. “If you try to burn this House down, you’re in for one hell of a fight!”

The former House leader insisted he was no longer bound by Duterte’s term-sharing deal, borne out of the fact that his offer of resignation was rejected by 184 of his colleagues. However, in a post on Facebook, the former Speaker stated the exact opposite of what he has been doing for weeks. “From the start I have always said that I will abide by what the President, as leader of our coalition, will say,” he wrote.

“Today, given the untenable political situation that Congress has been placed, and the possible damage to the country if the 2021 budget is not passed on time, I take his admonition to put aside all politics and focus on the budget to heart, and with this, tender my irrevocable resignation as Speaker effective immediately,” he said.

Rep. Cayetano, who has been showing his antics and theatrics at the plenary by even invoking verses from the Holy Bible, even stated in his press releases that “he is leaving his post with a clear conscience.”

“I have done my best, I have given my all, I leave with no regrets, and I hold no rancor in my heart towards anyone,” the former senator and one-time foreign affairs secretary, said.

In a press release issued before noon, Cayetano even described Velasco’s election as “illegal and unprecedented,” quoting his ally San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora in the latter’s interview over a radio station.

“It’s hard to say that the session at the Celebrity Sports Plaza was authorized. We have to be in session because of the proclamation of the President of a special session. Changing the Speaker requires nominal voting, votes and manifesto are needed for it to be valid. The voting should take place in a session,” Zamora said.

In a new but unexpected development, reports also have it that Duterte’s congressman-son Paolo has resigned as House Deputy Speaker for political affairs. There was no immediate copy of such, however, especially since congressmen were still busy with the turnover.

Meanwhile, the House Minority Bloc said they can work with whoever sits in the House leadership, as they have “consistently committed to working with our colleagues in the Majority in order to craft legislation aimed at benefiting our people. This we pledge to do regardless of who occupies the office of the Speaker, the holder of which is determined by those who belong to the Majority,” House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. said in a statement.

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Let’s call this the end of ugly Philippine politics and henceforth you will see many congressmen now allied with President Duterte go on their own to prepare themselves for the presidential elections in 2022. I can only hope this would never ever happen again in the Legislature. Meanwhile, it strengthens my resolve that the Cory or the 1987 Constitution is totally flawed and I dare say that the time has come for us to shift to a parliamentary form of government and inform the Filipino people that the Philippines would be better off having a parliamentary form of government. At this point, I hope that President Duterte would sponsor this so he can become the first president of our parliamentary form of government.

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Email: [email protected]

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