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Dishonored House





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The House of Representatives, already basking in the muck, launched recently another seedy act when two of its top guns, brandishing a majority support, trashed unity in favor of personal promotion by defying coherent expectations.

The ruckus started when Speaker Peter Allan Cayetano, clearly unwilling to honor the “gentleman’s agreement” it brokered with rival Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, moved to suspend regular sessions and declared a recess until Nov. 16. This divisive act, legal minds claim, is illegal given that it was made a week before both chambers of Congress would be constitutionally allowed to go on recess. For that audacious gambit, Rep. Cayetano broke the rules.

Then on Oct. 12, just four days after the Cayetano caper, Rep. Velasco was declared Speaker by his minions at the Celebrity Sports Plaza with a total of 186 votes. Under the principle of majority rule, Rep. Velasco wrested the House leadership despite Rep. Cayetano’s protestations it was conducted outside the House and without the official mace.

Velasco’s caper, like Cayetano’s gambit, also violated the Oct. 14 agreement both legislators signed over a year ago. For not honoring a time-bound accord, the ascendancy of Rep. Velasco can be considered inappropriate. In the real world, egalitarian decisions, however, are governed by the majority. This is the same ploy elected officials and even tyrants invoke in ensuring continued hold on power. Only in the violent realm of gangsters that the minority prevails.

If the schemes of the two lawmakers were part of political propaganda, surely the House leaders profited from them in terms of publicity mileage. The only downside here is that both acts turn them into opportunists.

To the credit of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s statecra, the duo, in front of their benefactor, grudgingly smoked the peace pipe on Oct. 13, the day when the House leadership changed hands. The truce affirms the longheld impression that Congress, despite claims of being an independent branch, remains, at least subjectively, under the President’s influence.

Rep. Cayetano’s fall from grace has been viewed by some observers as an occasional bottleneck in a politico’s life. But not in this case. With the Taguig lawmaker still licking his bruised ego and hurting from his dethronement, erasing the trauma of his downfall will take time.

Whichever way Rep. Cayetano goes, his reluctance to honor a gentleman’s agreement scarred him for life. His discourses notwithstanding, his slide into oblivion is something he has to stop before he activates his plan to return to the Senate in the 2022 elections.