August 20, 2019
AT the height of the intense struggle for the speakership of the 18th Congress in June and July, the President’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, expressed the view that all groups or parties in the House majority coalition, should have an opportunity to share in the scheme that was proposed by Taguig congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, and which subsequently got President Duterte’s blessing.
His point was plain. Since some ambitious lawmakers and small parties were taking advantage of the lack of clear party leadership in the the chamber to push forward the unprecedented term-sharing formula, all groups in the majority coalition should be given a crack at the House speakership.
That opinion was forced into the sidelines. In the event, the term-sharing scheme pushed through. Cayetano got his wish of not only being considered for the speakership, but of getting first crack at the post of House speaker. The other aspirants gave way to him because of President Duterte’s evident endorsement of the formula.
Amid all the rivalries and scheming, and when it became evident that the term- sharing scheme was being pushed relentlessly, the Manila Times expressed its view in an editorial on July 1, 2019 titled,“House should dump harebrained speakership term-sharing scheme.”
We wrote then:
“The House of Representatives as an institution will not benefit from term-sharing at all. The scheme will dilute the chamber’s strength of numbers and compromise its advantage in dealing with the Senate.
“Congress will be weakened in the process because of the lame duck status of the speaker.
“Finally, the nation will also lose from getting a weak speaker astride a carousel.
“This is particularly worrisome because the speaker is the third in line to succeed the president after the vice president and the Senate president.
“For these considerations alone, we think the House as a collective body should dismiss outright the term-sharing scheme as untenable and self-defeating.”
A month has now passed since the 18th Congress convened, and the officers of the House and the Senate were elected.
Looking over what has transpired in the House over the past 30 days, we frankly find no cause to revise or temper our judgment.
Speaker Cayetano raises no hope that he will be an improvement over his predecessors, or that he will upgrade the perennially shabby record and reputation of the House.
There is no uptick of activity and output in the House to suggest a more purposive chamber that seeks to make its mark by producing more significant legislation.
Instead, what we see is a distressing fallout from the term-sharing scheme. The arrangement has fueled the proliferation of ambition and fancy titles in the chamber, as Speaker Cayetano has made appointments and distributed assignments as he pleased.
In just a fortnight, the nation discovered that it now has to pay obeisance to 22 deputy speakers of the House of Representatives. And 56 chairmen of House committees.
Parties in the party-list, who used to wonder whether they would ever get respect, got a huge promotion. They will now be represented by four deputy speakers.
Now we must add “deputy speaker” to Vilma Santos’ many distinctions and honorifics.
Politicians like Loren Legarda, who never served a day in the House, have metamorphosed into “deputy speakers” overnight
What we want to stress is this: The House of Representatives is the most representative elective body in our entire system of government. It is an institution for national stability, so it needs to develop its rules and traditions to make a lasting contribution to national life.
In three years, the term of the 18th Congress will be over.
In 2022, the people will elect a new set of representatives.
Twenty-two deputy speakers? Dear Lord, please spare our nation from having as many speakers in the 18th Congress.
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net