Duterte mediation should not have been needed


    IT was the Magellan formula all right. In 1521, Fernando Magallanes arrived in the Visayas, and that figure guided the two contending representatives who wanted to lead the lower chamber in arriving at the 15-21 sharing deal. Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano would be Speaker of the House for the first 15 months, while Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would take over for the rest of the 18th Congress, a 21-month run. The accord even had the imprimatur of President Duterte, who originally brokered the deal, known then and now as the gentleman’s agreement.

    If these three leaders are genuinely gentlemen who value their word, then there would not have been a need for the Chief Executive to set another meeting in Malacañang on Sept. 29, 2020 to revisit the agreement. Just follow the accord to the letter to prove that you value your word.

    ‘Cayetano or Velasco, it will just be the same House of Representatives.’

    Now the House of Representatives may be asking itself why the Filipino people usually give this institution a low trust rating in credible surveys. These congressmen should have known long ago that they lack credibility, mainly because of incidents like this that confirm that “palabra de honor” is no longer respected in these halls.

    We do not know for sure, even after the Malacañang Golf Course meeting, if Velasco will really be Speaker of the House come October 14. No one among the opposing camps of Cayetano and Velasco is talking. And also, the speakership will be up for a vote in the chamber, and these congresspersons may even raise the banner of independence and go against the wishes of the President. We will just know in the coming days.

    Even the usually talkative presidential spokesman Harry Roque is tight-lipped, saying it is up to the House of Representatives to announce what has been discussed.

    Meantime, several indicators and sources said Cayetano is stepping down, as agreed, and will preside over a smooth transition to the Velasco speakership. There are lots of indicators in social media. In a Twitter post, PDP-Laban executive Ron Munsayac said: “Tapos na ang boxing,” indicating an end to the term-sharing controversy.

    The moral of the story is this: do not enter into a term-sharing agreement that stretches to a number of months, especially in the House of Representatives where the wind direction changes by the minute.

    Cayetano or Velasco, it will just be the same House of Representatives. The people will still need to struggle hard for the things that they need from the government.