Moro-moro, part two
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - October 4, 2020 - 12:00am

What a privilege speech delivered by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of the House of Representatives when he offered to resign the speakership! Some observers described it as a brilliant move. I beg to differ. While I concede that it was unprecedented in the annals of the Lower House, in my mind, I viewed it as more of a sickening type of moro-moro. For the second time in few months, Cayetano used Congress as a setting for a vicious political drama of the selfish character.

I do remember clearly the first moro-moro because I used that term in two previous articles I wrote here. When public pressure was mounting for Congress to tackle the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN, Cayetano, in an obvious effort to appease an angered citizenry, delivered a privilege speech on that issue. He capped this with his own version of a bill for the renewal of the franchise. Hooray! So many people hailed his move, as following the speech there were talks of getting the committees tasked to study all similar bills and report their findings and recommendations to the plenary in three days. I saw how Machiavellian was the Cayetano gambit hence I called it moro-moro.

Few days ago, Cayetano pulled a similar trick from his frame of thought. As the speaker of the house, he reportedly preempted everything listed in the agenda to deliver a privilege speech which was all about his offer to resign as speaker!

That wasn’t what I discerned. There was more than just an offer to resign. It was, to me, the second moro-moro. Let’s check the background to understand what I saw. It was reported that the night before, President Rodrigo Duterte conferred with Cayetano and Congressman Lord Alan Velasco. The purpose of the meeting was to find a way to implement a supposed gentleman’s agreement, forged in June 2019, in which the Taguig and Marinduque representatives were to share the speaker’s three-year term of office. Cayetano would be speaker for 15 months until September 2020 and Velasco would assume the leadership until June 2022. As reported, all parties, with presidential blessings, agreed, with Cayetano to turn over the reins on October 14.

Basing upon reports that Cayetano tried his hardest to show to Duterte the rosy side of his speakership, I surmised that the man holding one of two congressional districts in Taguig, along with his wife who holds the other district, wasn’t ready to yield power. Whoever said that power is intoxicating must have referred to Cayetano. Something (I didn’t know what) must be cooking in his mind. It was unraveled the following day in the form of the privilege speech.

Apparently on cue, a party-list representative moved to reject the offer to resign. A motion, presented on the floor, to reject an offer to resign is a stranger to the Robert’s Rules of Order. I am also unaware of any internal house rule permitting it. As a parliamentary invention of the grotesque kind, it was clearly a subterfuge of the rules supported by a huge block of legislators who, to my mind, were palpably driven more to preserve the perks of power than anything nationalistic. That only one soul registered a negative vote only showed, quite unfortunately, that anytime parliamentary rules can be raped by an overwhelming number of the members of the body. With that vote, Cayetano would claim the speakership in derogation to the Malacañang-brokered term agreement. Believe it or not.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
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