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FIRING LINE: House always wins

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

For those still following the zarzuela in Congress, suit yourselves. I’m tired of seeing that tug-o-war many times before – it’s like a recycled script of primetime drama that has long shooed audiences to more imaginative Koreanovelas.

The speakership has always been a game of numbers and the 184-1-9 (for-against-abstain) vote last Wednesday clearly favored the retention of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as leader of the House, which barely has 300 members at present.

Of course, there’s the conspiracy theory that all but one in his rival’s camp was kept in the dark about his “pretend-resign” maneuver in the plenary. But even if they had come in full force behind Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco that day, it’s apparent that Cayetano had long played his cards right.

Velasco still has one roll of the dice come October 14, when his allies plan to declare the Speaker’s seat vacant. We’ll see if he’d mustered or musketeered the numbers by then.

Regardless of the outcome – as they say in casinos – the House always wins. After all, Congress is vested with the power of the purse and all its members have emptied our wallets with our best interests in mind. Hah!

Say I’m jaded, but I’ve realized there’s no lesson to be taught our children in the Cayetano-Velasco power struggle in the Lower Chamber. It’s all just political intramurals that, actually, tend to repeat itself with different players. We already know that among the “honorables”, many play for the chips, not the honor.

*             *             *

Now, for those asking what happened to the “poong Duterte’s” all-powerful blessing, and why it did not seem to work its wonder on family friend, Velasco… here’s something Cayetano and Duterte himself know very well – the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches is at a near-perfect equilibrium as we speak.

Pending in Congress is the passage of the Duterte administration’s last full-year budget, a critical one to complete his legacy projects before the election-year budget (also called the half-year budget) kicks in.

Duterte, in short, is getting close to the lameduck days of his presidency, regardless of what his ratings in the surveys say. So the President was just being modest and forthright in rooting for palabra de honor, while understanding liberally the collegial body’s majority vote.

For him, the bottomline message to the House is “please, pass my budget!” And that’s exactly what he’s getting if he lets the House win.

*         *         *

SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https//.thephilbiznews.com

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