“I told you so…”
This was Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s message on Sunday night, firing a cryptic reminder using her Instagram account which was addressed to the incumbent members of the House of Representatives.
Without providing context, the young Duterte jolted the House members as the country is wrapped in the controversies hounding the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
“‘I told you so’ is a sure-fire way to kick-start an argument. In the same way, ‘you do not listen’ will ignite a conversation into a heated one. May I just say to everyone in Congress, ‘I told you but you did not listen, so there you go,’ the President’s daughter posted.
Duterte was one of the political personalities consulted by the House members before they voted to install a new speaker for the 18th Congress.
Duterte gained respect from the previous House members after she played instrumental in the ouster of former House Speaker and reelected Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
This happened during her father’s State of the Nation Address in 2018.
Alvarez was replaced by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was then representing the second district of Pampanga. She had served her third straight and last term as congresswoman.
During the 2019 midterm elections, Duterte also campaigned across the Philippines to endorse 13 administration-supportive senatorial candidates, including politicians running for local posts who also signed pacts of alliance with her Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
It was during these sorties when Duterte endorsed anyone between Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as the next speaker of the House.
Both were expected to go against former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano as he had earlier announced his intent to seek the House’s highest position.
But as the speakership race became tight, Duterte claimed that Cayetano paid her a visit in Davao City where he threatened to “break the group” if the President’s daughter endorsed Velasco, Sara’s personal bet and close ally.
“Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano was correct when he said that he did not seek my endorsement when he came to Davao to talk to me sometime last year,” Duterte said in her previous statement.
“He, however, came with a veiled threat, that if I endorse Rep. Velasco for Speaker, I would break up the ‘group.’ And this, he said, will affect the presidential elections of 2022,” she revealed.
To make sure that his 2019 SONA would not be interrupted again by a speakership impasse, President Rodrigo Duterte forged an agreement with the three congressmen to share terms.
They agreed that Cayetano will sit as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will assume the post after Cayetano has served his. The House majority leader’s position was secured for Romualdez.
House Speaker Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), is currently in hot water after delegates from different countries experienced shabby treatment from the organizers of the biennial meet — mostly Cayetano’s staff.
The House chief was also busy defending the expenses incurred by the government just to build facilities and prepare for the hosting of the SEA Games.
These include the P55-million cauldron for the opening ceremony and the P1.52 billion fund transferred to a non-governmental organization, Phisgoc or the entirely different Phisgoc Foundation, which did not undergo public bidding.