THE spoils of armed or political conflicts normally belong to the victor. Alas, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano learned the hard way that this isn’t always the case. While this political dictum is religiously followed in the House of Representatives, it’s not written in stone in the Senate.
Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao is reaping the fruits of the victory of his party’s presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte. Alvarez is just one of only three PDP-Laban congressmen in the incoming 17th Congress but his lifeline to Duterte is enough to convince an overwhelming majority of his colleagues to back his quest for House Speaker. Well, this is to be expected in the House. After all, congressmen certainly know which side of the bread is buttered. Or, as the more cynical among us would say, “Where the carcass is, that’s where the vultures are.”
We can’t blame Senator Alan for believing that senators are like-minded. He’s the only senator who ran in the ticket of president-elect Duterte. If Alvarez can do it in the House, he can also do it in the Senate. What’s more, only a true follower of Duterte can push for his legislative agenda in the Senate. Thus, clothed with this link to Duterte, he made a pitch for Senate President.
Unfortunately, his colleagues in the Senate don’t share his thinking, especially on the composition of the Senate leadership.
He is unbending in his belief that to the victor belong the spoils. In a legislature, what better spoils are up for grabs than choice posts and committee assignments? Reelected Sen. Vicente “Tito Sen” Sotto 3rd told reporters he got the impression that Cayetano didn’t want choice committees to go to those who had opposed Duterte in the recently concluded campaign.
Sen. Ping Lacson was all-out for Secretary Mar Roxas so he shouldn’t get the Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs. He had also opposed, rightfully so I must add, Duterte’s proposal to impose capital punishment by hanging, and has expressed doubts on Duterte’s campaign promise to eradicate crime in six months.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao was in the ticket of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Why then should he get the Committee on Games and Amusements, which has jurisdiction over jueteng and professional sports? If you ask me, Pacquiao’s “inheriting” of this committee from Sen. Lito Lapid would make him a more than able replacement of the former action movie star. Let him be, but I guess Pacquiao’s being in the ticket of Binay was enough for Cayetano to see red.
Former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was not only in the ticket of Roxas but also a pain in the ass for Duterte. For these reasons alone, Cayetano is convinced she shouldn’t head the Committee on Justice.
Ah, but it seems Senator Alan’s impositions on the Senate leadership did not sit well among those whose votes he was courting. Eight senators led by Tito Sen and six Liberal senators plus two allies headed by Sen. Franklin Drilon are not sold on Alan’s ideas on disqualifying some senators who were against Duterte.
Thus, the Senate in the 17th Congress will have Drilon, a Roxas supporter as Senate President Pro-tempore, Tito Sen, who is with the Binay camp, as majority leader, and Lacson as head of the committee of his choice. They are all with the losing candidates but they’ll get plum posts because the Senate is so unlike the House where only the victors get the spoils.
Now, the only chance of Cayetano’s bagging the Senate presidency is the direct intervention of Duterte in his behalf. However, this means Duterte will be going against the aspirations of Sen. Koko Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban. Perhaps, it’s best for Cayetano to just cool his heels and wait till next year when he’ll get the promised Cabinet post as foreign affairs secretary.
P15 rice a pipe dream?
Reader Jose Samilin believes that it will take a long process to achieve Duterte’s goal of lowering the price of rice to P15 a kilo, “or it will never be attained at all depending on the extent of government support for farmers.”
He also said that the lowering of the price of rice should not entail risks of greater poverty and starvation to rice farmers.
Samilin doubts that the price of rice will go down to P15 a kilo just because it is decreed by the government. Among other things, the government must provide free irrigation, subsidize seeds, fertilizers and other inputs, complete all necessary farm-to-market roads and field trained technicians and agriculturists. I note that many occupying these positions are political appointees and have no training in agriculture at all.
Samilin, who grew up in a farm in Mindoro, also batted for mechanized farming with assistance from government.