By ALI G. MACABALANG
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano offered on Wednesday to resign as speaker a day after President Rodrigo Duterte told him to honor the term-sharing deal with his rival, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco. But majority of House members, nominally accounted at 184, rejected the offer and voted for his retention.
Various quarters including media entities subsequently came up with discussions, with some discussants lauding the act and others criticizing it as another ugly political strategy in dishonor of covenant. President Duterte brokered the deal in 2019 to strike a balance among his allies in the legislative chamber.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque pointed out the Chief Executive’s desire for Cayetano and Velasco camps to honor the covenant. Some media reports said a timeline for leadership turnover was set this December to provide the chamber enough time to pass the 2021 national budget.
As I look at the issue, it involves a question of morality and legality. Both camps are one in abiding by the covenant for the sake of what is moral. But Cayetano has invoked legality, saying that Velasco should be elected by House members. But he doubted the possibility of Velasco garnering sufficient votes.
For the President, I believe, he brokered the term-sharing deal for his moral obligation to sustain unity in his Congressional allies. He could not invoke legality in the observance of the deal because it would sound as an executive department’s interference in the supposed independence of the legislature.
But the preferences of the Preisdenet and his allied lawmakers are not my concern. What strikes me is his enthusiasm in brokering a solution to a fewer number of people in comparison to the government covenant with the thousands of families displaced by the heavy military actions against the Maute group that caused tremendous devastations in Marawi City in 2017.
How I wish Mr. Duterte, the country’s first President from Mindanao who had occasionally admitted with pride her grand maternal lineage to the Meranao tribe, would exercise similar magnitude of enthusiasm to see the speedy rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi and fast recovery of its displaced residents.
It bothers to think why Mr. Duterte continues to sustain Sec. Eduardo del Rosario as chairman of the Task Force Bangon Marawi despite resounding complaints about lapses in the execution of government efforts to rebuild Marawi and rehabilitate the IDPs.
Government agencies and foreign institutions have got tired of sustaining evacuation centers for the IDPs, on one hand, and the Meranao bakwits got fed-up with discomforts in shelter camps and fled to far away areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to find sources of livelihood, on the other.
Sec. Del Rosario in collusion with his “collaborating allies” in Marawi City has been preventing the mass homecoming of IDPs to the city’s most affected area (MAA). They invoked the danger in the presence of unexploded ordnances in MAA as reason in preventing the mass IDPs return.
Some observers have downgraded the validity of alleged danger in “uncollected” explosives, sometimes giving credence to rumors that the lull was meant for something fishy.
Media reports have it that Del Rosario and his Marawi allies allowed the collection and sale of huge scrap metals from the MAA. Was there proper accounting of monetary proceeds from the scrap metals’ sale?
My suspicion about “fishy” things happening in MAA ran high when a lady resident confided to me via the Facebook Messenger what she vouched as a “sign of treasure hunting” in the area.
The informant pointed out twice that an Islamic scholar (alim), when once allowed to visit his abandoned residential compound in the city, found a deep and bid excavation in his place.
Some parts of Marawi were believed to be hosting spots where Japanese occupying soldiers allegedly had buried parts of the so-called Yamashita Treasure. (AGM)