House purges are inevitable

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    IT is too bad that Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano — a former speaker of the House of Representatives, and before that a senator, vice presidential candidate and secretary of foreign affairs — has not recovered from his failure to remain as speaker despite moving mountains in his failed bid to scrap his “gentleman’s agreement” with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for a term-sharing scheme called 15-21.

    Here again, Mr. Cayetano is purportedly calling for unity among allies of the Duterte administration, but actually touting to the new speaker and his colleagues that the ongoing purges of leadership positions in the House should stop.

    In a recent interview, Cayetano implied that his successor, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, had reneged on his promise to President Duterte that he will not reorganize the House leadership once he becomes the speaker.

    ‘…the fact remains that it was he who first initiated the purges.’

    Cayetano had always insisted that under the 15-21 term-sharing agreement he and Velasco forged and brokered by the President, changes will be limited to the speakership and the chairman of the powerful House committee on accounts. However, it was he who drew first blood when he sacked Mindoro Oriental Rep. Salvador Leachon and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as head of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal contingent and chairman of the powerful committee on appropriations, respectively. Leachon, now a deputy speaker, and Ungab were accused by Cayetano of plotting to overthrow his leadership to install Velasco.

    During the height of the Cayetano-Velasco fight for the speakership, Cayetano also removed four congresspersons, whom he perceived to be aligned with Velasco, from their leadership positions and committee chairmanships: Michael Romero, Angelina Tan, Sharon Garin and Eric Martinez. These representatives, who have been outstanding in their work and performance, were reinstated a day or two after Velasco finally won the speakership.

    Velasco’s reorganization of the House first involved a new chairman for the committee on accounts and a new minority floor leader. Last week, the leadership of the House decided to relieve Reps. Raneo Abu (NP, Batangas); Dan Fernandez (NUP, Laguna) and Fredenil Castro (Lakas-CMD, Capiz) of their positions as deputy speaker. Elected to take Abu’s post was Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar, who declined the position;  and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez replaced Fernandez.

    It seems Congressman Cayetano has yet to get over the fact that he is no longer speaker of the lower chamber, and that if there is a situation of divisiveness in the House and among Duterte supporters, he was at one time guilty of feeding into this culture.

    This is a tu quoque situation that cannot provide a mantle of correct arguments for Cayetano, for the fact remains that it was he who first initiated the purges.