"The Speaker has incurred a lot of political debt."
The 18th Congress is now a little over a one-month-old, but the House of Representatives has yet to wind up the organization of its 60 standing committees.
Last time I checked, at least eight committees have not been formed, meaning Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is still dilly-dallying on the selection of the chairmen for these panels.
House records showed that the following committees are still wanting of leadership: Cooperatives Development, Dangerous Drugs, Good Government and Public Accountability, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Muslim Affairs, Public Accounts, and Public Information.
Recall that the House as a whole came under severe criticisms for compromising its independence as a co-equal branch of government by giving in to the intervention of President Duterte in the election –I prefer to call it selection—of its Speaker.
Reports had it that the President recommended power sharing between the two top contenders, namely Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco of Marinduque, and Cayetano.
As the risk of emphasizing the obvious, that arrangement is now a done deal with Cayetano batting first.
It now appears, however, that the setup is not without backlash.
I do not mean to denigrate Cayetano’s political savvy having been a member of both chambers of Congress plus a brief stint as secretary of Foreign Affairs. Still, serving at the pleasure of the Chief Executive even as he now sits as Speaker and Parañaque representative by virtue of a popular vote leaves something to be desired.
Curious onlookers at the House’s state of affairs see that Cayetano is having a difficult time choosing the committee leaders because there is a lot of political debt, which he incurred on the road to the Speakership, to pay.
For one, there is the absence of total harmony among members of the rainbow coalition for which he was a chief architect, and the discord roundly manifested itself in the mad scramble for the committee chairmanships.
Unlike all other rainbows, this one does not qualify as a sight to behold.
As the top honcho in the House, Cayetano has to walk the tightrope in naming which colleague goes to which committee. He has to strike a balance between opposing quarters. Choosing one over the protest of the others will win him one friend but will create multiple detractors.
This puts Cayetano in a political dilemma. But he has only himself to blame for his current woes.
Being a Speaker has its own unwritten rules and time-honored traditions. Cayetano might have breached some of the rules and traditions, observers said.
But the more serious consequence of his misdemeanors is to inadvertently or unwittingly throw a monkey wrench into the legislative mill, resulting in the delay of passage of vital measures.
Expeditious deliberation and ratification of bills and resolutions is paramount for a dynamic and responsible legislative assembly.
At the end of the day, the voters will judge them by their performance as lawmakers. After all, their tenure is only for three years, subject to reelection if they come up short in their performance.