That was how a senior leader in the House of Representatives responded to the formation of a small huddle centered around Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano — a seven-man group the ousted speaker initially likened to the young K-pop group BTS.
Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza of the Buhay Party-list said “it’s about time” Cayetano and his small circle start to work after several months of absence in the Chamber.
It was the second “burn message” Cayetano has received in as many days after he declared the comparison of his group with the band BTS, which has millions of followers around the globe called the BTS Army.
The BTS Army called out Cayetano for using the band’s popularity to propel his political stock which was badly battered last year when he was ousted by a great majority of the House following his refusal to honor his “gentleman’s agreement” with new House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Cayetano had agreed in the presence of President Duterte to vacate the speaker’s post after 15 months to give way to Velasco whom he promised to allow to steer the House for 22 months.
President Duterte supported Velasco during that tussle, leaving Cayetano outside of the Chief Executive’s circle.
“I thank you former Speaker Cayetano and your six members that you’re forming a bloc in Congress and you’re deciding to work, as you have said,” Atienza said.
“It’s about time that you work! It has been three months that you have not been participating in the proceedings in Congress,” he added. “During the last three months, you were silent and acting like a child who felt really bad after he lost his lollipop. Now that you have recovered, better get back to work already.”
Atienza noted that after Velasco replaced Cayetano as the top House leader in October last year, the Taguig congressman and his allies have never participated in any House deliberation.
“Please prove that you will really keep the Lower House under scrutiny. Let us debate for the good of the people and quality legislation,” he urged them.
“Exercise your qualities as legislators. You said you’re excellent, then be present in the plenary. Participate in the debates. The public will benefit from that. Healthy debates in Congress are necessary component of effective lawmaking,” he added.
He also debunked the claims of Cayetano’s group that the House was better when it was under the leadership of the Taguig congressman.
In a separate statement, Atienza stressed that allies of the previous House leader have been monopolizing the oversight function of Congress.
“The truth of the matter was it (Cayetano’s group) killed all other oversight committees that existed in previous Congresses and instead, these powers were monopolized by only two of Cayetano’s clique — Defensor and Alvarado,” Atienza pointed out.
He was referring to Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado and Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor who are also members of Cayetano’s BTS bloc.
“This upset many [House] members because only the two of them were allowed to investigate,” he said.
Atienza recalled that other members were either muted out or given very limited time to talk and propound questions to resource persons.
“It was tough to interpellate during those times because it was like they were the only ones who had the right to speak,” he stated.
Atienza also defended the decision of the present leadership to abolish the Defeat Covid-19 Committee (DCC) formed by Cayetano, as they viewed it as “purely a propaganda tool.”
“We abolished the DCC because it provided unnecessary overlapping functions and assumes that the standing committees are ineffective,” he said.
“Under Speaker Velasco, the House will revive the committee system and the corresponding oversight committees so everyone can participate. It’s not like those days when the ‘bitter boys’ were there,” he said.
While Cayetano’s group claimed to be advocates of anti-Covid-19 vaccine procurement, Atienza said Cayetano-led House only allocated a measly P2.5 billion, which Velasco later increased to P8 billion and later to P72.5 billion.
Despite the high number of Covid-19 cases and deaths linked to the disease, it was only when Velasco took over the House leadership that the House had a mass Covid-19 testing.