There is a Sicilian proverb that says “the world has many stairs; there are those who go up and those who go down.”
Alan Peter Cayetano has gone down as the first speaker of the 18th Congress but, in the process, he also brought down his own reputation as a person and as a politician.
Had he honored the “gentleman’s agreement” that he signed with Marinduque Congressman Lord Allan Velasco he would not have suffered an ignominious exit from politics. So, what will happen now to his presidential ambition?
His pussilanimous resignation as Speaker which he announced on Facebook on October 13 was another serious flaw in his character. He could have salvaged his reputation had he attended the plenary of the special session, announced his resignation in front of his colleagues, and formally turned over the speakership to Velasco.
The drama all started when Cayetano, perhaps drunk with power, refused to vacate the speakership when his allotted term of 15 months lapsed. He resorted to all sorts of maneuver, even attempting to resign on September 30 knowing all along that his “resignation” would be rejected by some 200 members of the so-called super-majority.
Under the term-sharing pact, Congressman Velasco was supposed to lead the House for the next 21 months but this was almost thwarted by Cayetano’s insistence that the President ordered him to shepherd the passage of the 2021 budget. He has since apologized to the President, saying that he misinterpreted the latter’s instruction.
In reality it is always the incumbent president who calls the shot in the House of Representatives. Whoever is anointed by the President would be the speaker and he or she usually belongs to his party. In the current Congress, the President’s party, the PDP-Laban, is the ruling party. And logic dictates that Velasco, who is a leader of PDP-Laban, should have been automatically elected as speaker. But the President, perhaps out of pity for his losing vice-presidential candidate, agreed to give 15 months of the speakership to Cayetano.
These are now all water under the bridge. As one netizen jokes: “Peter will now have to kiss the feet of the Lord.” But even as we wish Speaker Velasco the best in his new role, we also hope that former Speaker Cayetano could learn from his mistakes and become a wiser and humble person.