"This could be the worst decision of his political career."
The word “strike” and the phrase “striking out” are part of the language of the United States’ national game, baseball. An inning comes to an end, and a change-over takes place, when the person at bat fails to hit three successive perfect throws from the pitcher. The batter is said to have struck out.
If the Filipino people want a good example of the striking-out concept, they need go no further than the career of the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alan Peter Cayetano. Mr. Cayetano has had Strike 1 and Strike 2 called against him; another strike and he will be, as in baseball, out.
Strike 1 was called against Cayetano, not by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but by the Filipino people, during the 2019 elections period. Not content with his brother Lino’s being the family’s home city’s mayor, Alan and his wife launched their candidacies for the two House of Representatives seats of Taguig City. The outgoing Speaker defended his and his wife’s candidacies for both Taguig House seats with an argument that left the Filipino people aghast and incredulous: Though he and his wife were not estranged, they maintained different residences, with each of them residing in different parts of their city. Their argument sent law students scurrying to the Family Code of the Philippines and to the jurisprudence on the meaning of the family home.
To the great consternation and disgust of the Filipino people, Comelec accepted the argument of Cayetano and approved his and his wife’s candidacy. Many cynical Filipinos believed that the Duterte-appointed Comelec commissioners did not want to offend the man who three years earlier was the running mate of President Rodrigo Duterte.
With the successful campaigns of Alan, his wife and his brother, Taguig City had effectively become Cayetano City. And let us not forget Alan’s sister, Pia, who successfully returned to the Senate. The Filipino people now had Cayetanos coming out of their ears.
Strike 2 for Alan has been his incredible reneging on the July 2019 agreement that he entered into, with the approval of President Duterte, for the sharing of the 18th Congress Speakership with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. Cayetano would be Speaker for the 18th Congress’ first 15 months and Velasco would have the Speakership for the remaining 21 months. It was a simple sharing agreement; Cayetano was not heard to attach any conditions to it.
There were people who were uneasy about the arrangement and doubted that the ambitious Alan Peter would honor it. They were proven right. As turnover neared, Cayetano started to signal that he would not honor the term-sharing agreement with Rep. Velasco. Marinduque’s lawmaker was now being accused of plotting against the Speaker, of being lazy and insufficiently involved in the work of the Lower House, and of lacking leadership qualities. To avert the agreed October 14 turnover of the Speakership, Cayetano suddenly suspended the Congressional session to November 16, in the process placing in jeopardy the timely national-budget completion that President Duterte desired.
In time, Alan Peter will probably come to realize that his decision to not honor his term-sharing agreement with Rep. Velasco is the worst decision he has made in his political career, whose high point was his being selected as a major political party’s candidate for this country’s second-highest position. That decision clearly displeased President of President Duterte—the broker of the agreement —who wanted nothing to stand in the way of timely approval by Congress of the General Appropriations Act for 2021.
More than that, in deciding to renege on his agreement with Rep. Velasco, Alan Peter alienated all sensible, right-thinking Filipinos who now see him as power-hungry, overly ambitious and who is anything but trustworthy.
Strike 1 and Strike 2 have been called against now-former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. Strike 3 and he will be out. The question is, what will The Honorable Gentleman from Taguig City do for Strike 3?