By Ellson Quismorio
One of the so-called “whips” in the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party has expressed satisfaction with the job of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker in the 18th Congress.
“Personally I’m very happy with the job [Cayetano] has done as Speaker. Magaling siya (He is good),” said the House member, who declined to be named so as not ruffle any feathers within the party. A party whip is considered to be the party’s “enforcer”, ensuring discipline among its members in the House.
“He said he will improve the image of the House, and he is doing that,” the PDP-Laban stalwart further said of Cayetano, who represents Taguig-Pateros.
“Remember, he garnered the highest rating ever for a Speaker, higher than [immediate predecessors Gloria Macapagal-] Arroyo and [Pantaleon] Alvarez. You can’t take that away from him,” the ruling party stalwart added.
Last October, Cayetano received a 64-percent approval rating and a 62-percent trust rating in the results of a Pulse Asia Survey covering the top five government officials of the land. It marked the first time ever that a House leader outperformed Vice President Leni Robredo in the ratings.
Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party (NP), which is a partner of the PDP-Laban-led coalition in the legislature. President Rodrigo Duterte leads the coalition in his capacity as chairman of PDP-Laban.
A former senator, Cayetano has also noticeably developed great synergy with erstwhile Speakership contender, Majority Floor Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez. Romualdez sits as president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) party, another Duterte coalition partner.
PDP-Laban had actually endorsed one of its own–Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco–for the Speakership. However, he ultimately was made to wait on the wings as Cayetano’s “guaranteed” replacement after the latter’s 15th month as Speaker under an unprecedented term-sharing agreement.
The term-sharing deal was brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself at the last minute in order to prevent his House allies from splintering midway through his Palace tenure.
But the Taguig-Pateros solons’ lofty survey figures, as well as his hand in the swift passage of the proposed 2020 national budget, have had other congressmen wishing that he would remain as Speaker for the entirety of the 18th Congress instead.
One of them, Committee on Public Accounts chairman and Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor, has likened the situation to a basketball game wherein Cayetano was the player with the “hot hand.”
“Why would you bench the player who is scoring all points?” he said in Filipino during a recent press conference.
The PDP-Laban solon in the beginning of this article appears to see Defensor’s point, saying, “Cayetano has set a high bar for the next Speaker. He is doing a great job.”