Ousted House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s launching of a new House bloc with six of his loyal allies — called “BTS sa Kongreso” — was an obvious publicity stunt and gimmickry to save his career, a House leader said on Thursday.
House Senior Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon offered this after the group made its official debut on the same day the former House leader launched new tirades against House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, whose term was nearly scuppered by Cayetano’s refusal to honor the term-sharing agreement they have forged before President Duterte.
Cayetano earlier clarified that the bloc actually stands for “Back To Service” after it suffered a heavy backlash from fans of the widely popular South Korean boyband BTS, a big shaker in the international music industry.
Political sideliners claimed the BTS is not even an original idea but a copy of the 11th Congress’ “Spice Boys” composed of six neophyte members of the House namely, Rolando Andaya Jr., Robert Ace Barbers, Michael Defensor, Hernani Braganza, Federico Sandoval II, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Cayetano claimed that the House under Velasco’s leadership has turned into a “House of politics,” and said it should re-adjust its focus to public service — the same reason why they came up with the group’s name.
Cayetano’s claim was again rebuffed by the supermajority that withdrew support from him.
“This is an obvious publicity stunt and gimmickry from someone who’s trying to revive his political career. He suffered a major setback after the overwhelming majority of House members ousted him from the top House post three months ago,” Leachon said.
He lambasted the Taguig congressman for his alleged “baseless and unfair tirades” against the Velasco-led House of Representatives.
“Who’s politicking? Who can’t move on? Who’s bitter?” Leachon asked.
“Speaker Velasco is consistent — his trademark is that he works even away from the limelight. Not doing Facebook live or press conferences doesn’t mean he’s disinterested or sitting around doing nothing,” he added.
House records, Leachon pointed out, would prove that the Velasco-led House is a working House.
From 12 October to 16 December 2020, the Chamber has processed a total of 185 measures, 26 of those enacted, including the P4.506-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2021 and the laws extending the validity of funds appropriated through the Bayanihan to Recover as One or Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 GAA.
‘Nowhere to be found’
Deputy Speaker Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. pointed out that Cayetano was nowhere to be found after he failed to keep his seat at the House in October last year.
While Cayetano claimed that his bloc would push for legislation for the greatest public interest in Congress, Teves stressed that Cayetano never participated in any House proceedings after he got booted out.
“Did he ever attend hearings in Congress or made a significant contribution after he was replaced as Speaker? Who’s lazy now?” Teves asked.
The Negros Oriental congressman reminded Cayetano of his ploy to prevent the House leadership change last year that ultimately displeased President Rodrigo Duterte and made over 200 lawmakers declare the Speakership position vacant.
“Lest we forget, it was Cayetano who didn’t want to have a full deliberation by all agencies for the national budget, which Speaker Velasco did. The Speaker successfully finished the budget within the necessary period to ensure that it will not be reenacted,” Teves said.
Deputy Speaker Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, meanwhile, said Cayetano is free to form any group but ascribing the meaning “Back to Service” with reference to Congress is both “inaccurate and very ironic.”
“The level of service that the House of Representatives provides has not waned in any way, shape, or form. In fact, under the leadership of Speaker Velasco, the House is now more focused than ever and works efficiently without fanfare and the distraction of politics,” Bondoc said.
Composing the bloc are Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte; Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado; Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu; Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor; Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez — Cayetano’s allies who also lost their committee posts after Velasco took over in line with the term-sharing agreement.
“We are solutions looking for problems. We are dedicated (and) committed to give the Filipino people the best,” Cayetano said as he introduced the BTS huddle during a press conference in Quezon City.
Cayetano’s group’s speeches went from its future plans on issues like Covid-19, rising grocery prices, and high electric bills to attacks against Velasco.
“BTS means ‘back to providing the right service.’ It’s not a name, it’s a call to action to the Congress,” Cayetano said.
He claimed that when the lower chamber was under his leadership, the House was working as a “House of People” but under Velasco, it has turned into “House of Politics.”
“It is very apparent to us that the allies of the new Speaker are launching a smear campaign. The Speakership is all yours,” Cayetano said.
“Isaksak niyo pa sa baga niyo! (Loosely translated: Stick it up to your asses) That’s not the issue here. The issue is people are suffering,” he added.
The House, however, had been significantly quiet on the speakership issue after the Velasco-Cayetano power struggle last year. Velasco never mentioned his rivalry with Cayetano in any way since his election by a great majority as Speaker.
For Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson, Cayetano’s group acted like “self-entitled, petulant children during their little press conference.”
“They kept on emphasizing that they will continue to work as Congressmen, despite losing their committee chairmanships and positions. Since when is this a prerequisite to work?” he said.
“So, are the people still indebted to them because they work even though they do not have special appointments? Talk about being spoiled brats!”
“Who has a flair for being dramatic? Who likes to kneel in front of everyone, lie prostrate whenever there are cameras, and name his little band of allies after a Korean boy band? So now, tell me who likes politicking?” he added.