Manila Bulletin

The war may not yet be over for the ousted speaker

- RJ NIETO For comments and reactions, please email TP@ThinkingPi­ or visit­gPinoy

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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