"Let both little boys have their ice cream, cake and balloons."
House Speaker Alan Cayetano’s revelation that he asked his rival for the speakership, Lord Allan Velasco, to consider his birthday on the date of their term-sharing agreement struck many as being juvenile and immature.
But before going into that, is such a term-sharing agreement even part of the usual protocol? While it seems that a rotation of leadership would allow other voices to be heard and other opinions shared, it would work only if there were an amicable and harmonious turnover of duties and responsibilities.
There is also power and authority vested in the position, but I believe what our representatives should be thinking about more is their responsibility and commitment to do right by the people.
About the birthday issue, there was a tussle in the date of the turnover by Cayetano to Velasco of the House speakership, a deal brokered by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself at the beginning of the 18th Congress.
In essence, Cayetano wants to still be Speaker by Oct. 28, his birthday.
Cayetano said Velasco’s reply on the matter was, “But it’s my birthday too!” (His is on Nov. 9.)
Cayetano then said: “Pare (bro), it’s my 50th birthday, it’s sentimental to me.”
Velasco: “You’re so shallow.”
Cayetano: “Yes, I’m shallow.” He added, “I really am shallow, sentimental. Who among us turning 50 isn’t sentimental?”
Well, at least they both know and admit they are being shallow about this. Meanwhile, their public meltdowns are embarrassing and off-putting. Who wants to see their duly elected representatives to Congress acting like spoiled brats when there are bigger issues to deal with?
Most commenters were not pleased. Reading various news websites, I found the following: green123+ wrote, “Mañanita, birthday dinner sa Baguio, now speakership birthday for 300 congressmen. What is it about birthdays that is so important that government officials are forgetting that 30% of the population is suffering from hunger?”
Unleadedzeppelin replied: “more like 70% are suffering from hunger as per government data.”
John Lee: “Bayan atupagin niyo wag birthdays niyo!” (Concern yourselves with the country, not your birthdays!)
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, rampant unemployment, problems with online education, a failing economy, piling debt, waste of government resources as in the Boracay-ization of Manila Bay, and massive corruption as in PhilHealth and its missing and misspent billions, our elected congressmen are squabbling about their birthdays.
Cayetano was also recently called out for allegedly muting other representatives in a Zoom meeting. In a fit of petulance, he was said to have cut off the mics of his colleagues in such a way that they could not unmute their mics.
Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza shared a screenshot to this effect. In the image, Atienza is seen in a videoconference holding up a piece of paper with the words “I object” in reaction to the second-reading approval of the proposed 2021 national budget and suspension of session up to Nov. 16.
The image also shows Cayetano, with a dialogue box on the screen reading, “The host is not allowing participants to unmute themselves.”
Whether this action was inadvertent or deliberate, it is still a fact that some voices were unheard in that meeting. Atienza said many of his fellow lawmakers were also objecting “at the top of our voices, but again, we were muted on Zoom and all our objections were thrown out the window.”
Speaking of Cayetano, Atienza also said “He didn’t care about Constitutional integrity, throwing everything in the air and making Congress go on a long vacation. Ginulo niya lahat (he messed up everything) and he violated all the rules of the House.”
So in addition to behaving in an immature manner, Cayetano disregarded rules in order to railroad his agenda without hearing his colleagues, silencing their voices and suppressing other thoughts and ideas on the matters under discussion.
It seems simple enough, on the face of it. Let the turnover be on Nov. 3. That way both the little boys get to have their ice cream, cake, and balloons as Speaker.
However, with Cayetano forcing a vacation on Congress up to Nov. 16, that means he prevented Velasco from enjoying his birthday as Speaker. How’s that for petty revenge?
This is not the kind of leadership we need, particularly in these desperate and difficult times. We need leaders who will always put their responsibilities and duty to the country first, and not bring their vapid personal desires into their decision-making.
What happened to the missing PhilHealth billions?
FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO