Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is committing political suicide in reneging on the gentleman’s agreement among him, President Rodrigo Duterte and Marinduque Rep. Allan Lord Velasco.
Already, the Speaker is losing his support base in the House of Representatives since all of his peers know that Cayetano assumed the Speakership merely on the basis of the term-sharing agreement by which he was able to maneuver Mr. Duterte’s key support.
The fine print of the deal also came from Cayetano that makes it shameful that he is now turning his back on it.
The deal disheartened many members of the chamber who adhere to the principle of the independence of the legislature in deciding its affairs and in choosing who should stand as its leader.
Now, Cayetano had to resort to transactional politics to maintain his tenuous hold to the top House position.
In effect, Cayetano was voted in as Speaker only due to his having begged President Duterte’s intervention, even on a 15-month speakership term, after which another speaker, who already had the majority of the House vote and should have been rightfully elected as Speaker, had little choice but to give in to Cayetano.
Prior to the term-sharing deal, Cayetano was hardly ever considered as a serious contender for the speakership.
Cayetano used the same ploy in 2015 in his failed bid to become the country’s vice president by latching on Mr. Duterte even when he still, at that time, had no blessing from his supposed co-tandem or his family members.
He tried to wrangle a leadership sharing deal personally with Velasco in negotiations that promptly fizzled out.
The thinking then among congressmen was why should Velasco agree to be tied down to a compact when he had a good chance of securing a majority, while the other party had little to zero chance of winning the speakership.
The vote, prior to the horse trading initiated by Cayetano, was split in the middle between Velasco and Leyte Congressman Martin Romualdez, who is president of the Lakas Party that had its heyday during the reign of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Then money flowed as some of the bets angling to win the speakership were quoted as saying that hundreds of millions of pesos were offered.
Image is also a long-standing problem of Cayetano, who is not known as a unifying force, but rather a divisive figure in his stint in both the Senate and the House.
Cayetano may just have to kiss his grander ambitions goodbye in double-crossing his peers.