Amid the worsening skirmishes between the House of Representatives and the Cabinet of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, suddenly former House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya sheared and sliced off his own title, surrendered it and had seemingly personally shorn himself of a briefly held albeit severely-soiled House position.
At first blush, from the perspective of the anti-trapo advocates and most right-minded Filipinos truly concerned that the patently illegal pork barrel was mutating and resurrecting from its shallow grave at the House, Andaya’s self-surrender and what appeared as a steep step from grace from his dubiously- propped pedestal seemed heaven-sent.
Well, don’t hold your breath. What decent-minded people had first thought was a rebuke for his continuing harassment of one of the Duterte Cabinet’s more competent secretaries and a key economic manager on account of the latter’s anti-pork barrel advocacies might actually be a disingenuous gambit to sacrifice a weaker position in place of a strategic vantage point to directly target one Cabinet secretary and the proverbial cashbox.
As the Cabinet vs Congress conflict swirls around a vicious debate on the illegal pork barrel system that the leadership of the House bullheadedly insists on resurrecting, albeit in a mutated form, the graphic imagery of hogs being castrated quickly enters our minds when we imagine a pork barrel-fed and fattened legislator suddenly denied his prolific powers.
The metaphor is appropriate. Simply tweak your imagination. Hog raisers practice surgical castration on pigs to prevent the production of an unpleasant, malodorous and stinky odor known as “boar taint” — a noxious smell produced by un-castrated male pigs. In the United States, meat with such odors from un-castrated boars are statutorily prohibited from entering the human food supply chain. Domestic hog raisers do the same for a variety of other reasons. One misconception is that a castrated pig fattens faster. Albeit a misconception, it enhances the appropriateness of the extended metaphor between castrating pigs and disempowering crooks.
Perhaps Andaya’s self-inflicted culling of his own House leadership title is not a product of divine intervention as those who’ve celebrated righteousness and prematurely popped the bubbly might think. As the old and crusted cliché goes, the devil is in the details. Diabolical dynamism can change everything or worsen matters.
Rather than castrating congressional corruption, under a resurrected politico who wormed back into power in the last SONA, House leaders might have just effectively erected a monument to corruption both proud and priapic.
Diabolical machinations remain in play where Andaya and the control of our precious money are concerned. Those stirring sounds we hear behind the walls of the House of Representatives indicate that corruption’s infernal infestation may have simply sunk deeper into the woodwork.
Allow us to look into the details of Andaya’s slide from House Majority Speakership to the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee in the light of reinvigorating the criminal pork barrel system and the efforts to sabotage the Duterte Cabinet’s anti-corruption initiatives.
Let’s start with a benign albeit reprehensible practice in transactional wheeling dealing politics. To debunk the notion that Andaya’s controversial culling was a rebuke, a yarn was spun that his surrender of the House Majority Speakership post was part of an old “gentleman’s agreement” on power-sharing secretly spawned under the table while the current House Speaker was busy undermining a colleague and installing herself within striking distance of the presidency.
Power sharing in a democratic milieu does not involve gentlemen. It involves wheeler dealers.
On the assumption of the Appropriations Committee chairmanship, the lead body that oversees the manner our taxes are either spent, squandered or stolen, strategically positioned, Andaya would not only be armed and empowered to directly fashion a more focused and lethal offensive against the Cabinet budget hierarchy but, now with the purse strings twirled around his clawing fingers, as supreme irony would have it, he would also be the proverbial rapacious fox guarding the chicken coop.
Viewed against his ambition to run for governor this May and given the funding an uphill campaign entails, now smelling better, he is exactly where he wants to be.