Manila Bulletin

The war may not yet be over for the ousted speaker

- RJ NI­ETO For com­ments and re­ac­tions, please email TP@Think­ingPi­ or visit Face­­ingPi­noy Congress of the United States · Alan Peter Cayetano · Taguig City · Pateros, Metro Manila · Cebu City · Manila · Metro Manila · Philippines Department of Public Works and Highways · Bicol Region · Camarines Sur · Philippine Olympic Committee · Lea Salonga · Opening Ceremony

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano just a few days ago and I re­mem­ber cring­ing so hard when he ten­dered his “ir­rev­o­ca­ble res­ig­na­tion” min­utes af­ter he was axed.

He was fired from the speak­er­ship, so a res­ig­na­tion was need­less drama. Af­ter he knelt in prayer in the ses­sion hall last week, I al­most thought he would take his un­nec­es­sary res­ig­na­tion a notch higher by vol­un­teer­ing to get nailed on the cross in full pub­lic view.

Gerry Lirio aptly de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion when he wrote, “Up to the last minute, Cayetano was still try­ing to con­trol the nar­ra­tive.”

Yes, that was what Cayetano at­tempted, but with lit­tle suc­cess.

I vividly re­mem­ber watch­ing a clip from the 2020 doc­u­men­tary film “A Thou­sand Cuts,” which fea­tured footage of a con­ver­sa­tion in­volv­ing Cayetano, con­gres­sional can­di­date Mocha Uson, and Uson’s man­ager By­ron Cris­to­bal.

Let me di­rectly quote what Cayetano told the two:

“Puwede ko na­man kay­ong tu­lun­gan eh at saka yung tao ko nan­doon kasi… like sa tra­di­tional me­dia, you can buy… sa ngayon, pati in­ter­views, binebenta. At pag bi­nenta nila iy­ong in­ter­view, uhm, you can give your own ques­tions, so hindi ka matatakot (I can help you and my guy is there be­cause… like in tra­di­tional me­dia, you can buy… right now, even in­ter­views are sold. And when they sell in­ter­views, uhm, you can give your own ques­tions, so you won’t be scared).”

That sounds a lot like bribery to con­trol the nar­ra­tive, right?

I don’t know where Cayetano gets funds if and when he prac­tices what he teaches, but I bet it takes lots of money to do so.

But with the loss of his speak­er­ship, over R1 bil­lion in con­fi­den­tial funds ac­corded to the House is now out of his reach, as­sum­ing he hasn’t spent it all prior to his ter­mi­na­tion. He has also lost in­flu­ence over what he de­scribes as the cham­ber’s R1.6-bil­lion fund in­tended to “en­hance re­search,” what­ever that means.

That is a mind-numb­ing prob­lem for the vastly de­pow­ered Cayetano be­cause his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents may soon start swoop­ing down on him. Cayetano pre­sum­ably dreams of a na­tional po­lit­i­cal come­back, so he will need con­trol over the nar­ra­tive him­self as they start to at­tack en masse.

What at­tacks? Here are some op­tions:

First is the bloated pub­lic works al­lo­ca­tion for Taguig-Pateros.

Cebu 2nd Dist. Rep. Ro­drigo Abel­lanosa said TaguigPate­ros got R11 bil­lion in pub­lic works fund­ing out of the R25 bil­lion al­lot­ted for the en­tire Metro Manila. Taguig and Pateros col­lec­tively con­tain only 900,000 (7.5%) of Metro Manila’s 12 mil­lion res­i­dents, but they got 44% of Metro Manila’s DPWH fund­ing.

In what planet, pray tell me, can that be con­sid­ered fair?

Sec­ond is Cayetano’s car­pet­bag­ging in Bi­col. Ca­marines Sur 1st Dist. Rep. Marissa An­daya passed away in July, 2020. In­stead of call­ing for spe­cial elec­tions for her re­place­ment, Cayetano shame­lessly ac­cepted his ap­point­ment as leg­isla­tive care­taker of her district. With this, Cayetano gained ad­di­tional power over the bud­get al­lo­ca­tions for that district, in ad­di­tion to those for his home district of Taguig-Pateros, and in ad­di­tion to the other Taguig district where his wife sits as House rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

That is, aside from ex­er­cis­ing over­whelm­ing con­trol over the cham­ber’s con­fi­den­tial funds, he also has de facto con­trol over the pub­lic works al­lo­ca­tions of not just one district, but a whop­ping three.

Third is Cayetano’s chair­man­ship of the 2019 Philip­pine SEA Games Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee (Phis­goc).

Philip­pine Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Bam­bol To­lentino ques­tioned why Phis­goc still owes R387 mil­lion to SEA Games sup­pli­ers as of Oc­to­ber, 2010. Phis­goc COO Ra­mon Suzara de­nied the al­le­ga­tion, but au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments are still nowhere to be found.

I re­mem­ber colum­nist Mon Tulfo pub­lish­ing two pages of a spread­sheet en­ti­tled “SEAG 6B Bud­get Mon­i­tor­ing.”

One of the pages shows en­tries for tal­ent fees paid to per­form­ers. A line says Lea Sa­longa got R1.425 mil­lion. An­other line says Ryan Cayabyab got R1.14 mil­lion. The amounts sound rea­son­able, given the cal­iber of these two artists.

How­ever, I was shocked at the line that says “Tal­ent Fee for Clos­ing Cer­e­mony Per­former BEP (500K USD) – R26.5 mil­lion.” That sounds a lot like the Black-Eyed Peas got half a mil­lion dol­lars of tax­payer money.

Note that I haven’t even delved into the con­tro­ver­sial SEA Games Open­ing Cer­e­mony that re­port­edly cost tax­pay­ers R642 mil­lion. Yes, that open­ing cer­e­mony alone sup­pos­edly cost that much.

Phis­goc has all the right to de­fend it­self, but it should have de­fended it­self with au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments (AFS). De­spite al­lo­cat­ing R2.2 mil­lion for ex­ter­nal au­di­tor ser­vices per the same doc­u­ments Tulfo sourced, that AFS is still nowhere to be found.

And who chairs Phis­goc? Ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

I hate cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cials, es­pe­cially those who use the Bi­ble as a dis­guise.

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