How low can they go?

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - COMMENTARY - Di­nah S. Ven­tura

Sen­a­tor Ping Lac­son calls it “ugly,” this squab­ble at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives over, of course, money. Not just any amount, but mind-bog­gling fig­ures.

Who knew there were bil­lions of pe­sos at hand but which COVID-af­fected Filipinos can­not use?

Just the thought of shelling out P5,000 weighs so heav­ily on a worker who has to get a swab test to keep work­ing, but can’t af­ford it.

And here are our con­gress­men, heaven help them, war­ring over enough amounts of money one can­not ever spend in a lifetime.

Per­haps an­other word to use is “de­spi­ca­ble,” this be­hav­ior be­ing so bla­tantly dis­played by some of the (dis)re­spectable lead­ers of our land.

And “shock” is no longer some­thing that ap­plies to how peo­ple feel about this... ut­ter de­prav­ity.

Dis­gust?

Too tame — as tame as the word “bick­er­ing” that is be­ing used to re­fer to the on­go­ing word wars.

One sup­poses such skir­mishes are noth­ing new in the halls of power. We note, too, that these days, there are no longer such things as “word of honor” and “gen­tle­man’s agree­ment.”

There is only one-up­man­ship and schem­ing — and a de­spair­ing lack of in­tegrity (not to men­tion class).

We are des­per­ate to be­lieve we are wrong. We would like to hear Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte re­leas­ing some of those fa­mous blis­ter­ing re­marks when­ever some­one angers him.

Lately, he was fum­ing at Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo for com­ment­ing, in an in­ter­view, on the “lack of sys­tem” in the gov­ern­ment’s way of ad­dress­ing the pan­demic.

Can Mr. Duterte be an­gry this time at golden boy Alan Peter Cayetano and all the rest of “them rep­re­sen­ta­tives” who are fight­ing over funds and po­ten­tially de­lay­ing the passage of the 2021 bud­get?

It all be­gan when Ne­gros Ori­en­tal Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. ques­tioned in­fra­struc­ture funds sup­pos­edly al­lot­ted be­tween con­gres­sional dis­tricts, par­tic­u­larly those of House Speaker Cayetano (Taguig City) and Deputy Speaker Luis Ray­mund Vil­la­fuerte (Ca­marines Sur).

Ac­cord­ing to Teves, P11.8 bil­lion of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways’ pro­posed 2021 bud­get is for Cam Sur’s in­fra­struc­ture projects, while P8 bil­lion would go to Taguig.

An in­censed Vil­la­fuerte claimed it was “hearsay,” then brought in the is­sue of the speak­er­ship row into the ar­gu­ment, say­ing “Teves’ ques­tion­ing re­veals a sup­posed plan hatched by Marinduque Rep. Lord Al­lan Jay Ve­lasco’s camp to dis­turb the cur­rent lead­er­ship’s track to pass the 2021 na­tional bud­get ahead of time,” as a news re­port goes.

Other con­gress­men joined the fray, in­fus­ing our pan­demic-in­duced peace with dis­quiet. Is this what we are liv­ing for, we muse — a world led by such men?

With Solomonic wis­dom, Pres­i­dent Duterte had bro­kered a term-shar­ing deal in which Cayetano would serve as House

Speaker for 15 months be­fore Ve­lasco re­places him and lead Congress for the re­main­ing 21 months.

Even then, peo­ple knew it would be a tem­po­rary peace. The boys would come out to play one day, and it seems we are see­ing the game once more.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Vi­cente Sotto says the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive will likely not in­ter­fere this time “un­less his per­spec­tive is sought.”

Well, this cor­ner is mighty cu­ri­ous about what he thinks at this point. How low can the House go in this time of the pan­demic?

The game isn’t over un­til it’s all over, Mr. Pres­i­dent.

“Even then, peo­ple knew it would be a tem­po­rary peace. The boys would come out to play one day, and it seems we are see­ing the game once more.

“We note, too, that these days, there are no longer such things as ‘word of honor’ and ‘gen­tle­man’s agree­ment.’

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