EDITORIAL: Pork Barrel Loyalties

The battle for speakership and control of the House of Representatives promises to be a long drawn battle between the PDP Laban and Nacionalista Party, led by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco of PDP Laban and Speaker Allan Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party, who both belong to the super majority supportive of the Duterte administration.

And with Velasco publicly declaring an all-out fight against Cayetano, there is a strong indication that eventually a dark horse is the next recourse. The situation pragmatically signals the dawning of a lame duck presidency.

This situation gives the minority bloc a crucial role in the sense that, as the two contending strong forces continue out positioning each other the minority is right at the fulcrum, and to whichever side it tilts, defines the prevailing force.

It also means that there could be a major shake-up in the composition of Deputy Speakers, Majority Leaders and Committees. As a consequence the confusion could derail the administration’s pet projects. More importantly, plans and programs targeted to fight the Covid-19 pandemic could be in for a major loss of direction, because of political considerations.

From the positive side the realignment of forces can help crystalize the undefined principles to which the contending parties belong. It is a necessary for political parties to at least have a colorable platform of government, unlike now when alliances are tested not on the basis of principles but purely on material consideration.

Locally the collision of the PDP and NP is surely to get a clearer realignment at least in three provinces of Bicol Region. Deputy Speaker L-Ray Villafuerte who obviously is well connected with Speaker Cayetano, belongs to NP with the Villar family as its major pillar.

As to Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado (LP) the conflict of the two major parties is proving beneficial to him, otherwise his district’s budgetary allocations would have been nil courtesy of L-Ray. The minority to which Bordado belongs has found a fresh material for wheeling and dealing. His pork barrel will be reinstated. Bordado’s move is indicative that he has to kowtow with those in firm government control given that he is now between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Pragmatism dictates that he goes along where political honey or sweetener is abundant. New alliances are being fortified and with main stream personalities gravitating towards the NP or the PDP.

That clearly draws the line already between the Villafuertes as against the Andaya ,Fuenteballa and Alfelor alliance which eventually will seek shelter from the PDP Laban. Once the NP and PDP forces battle for control, the minority shall play a unique role and whichever side it may join shall emerge stronger.

This situation must have already been entertained by Albay 1st district Representative Edcel Lagman with his masterful political decision in casting a vote of abstention regarding the motion of the house majority to reject the resignation of Allan Peter Cayetano as Speaker. As to Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, he is definitely a personification of a chameleon politician for all seasons.

In Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur the Tallados and Fortunos shall at the moment, continue greasing inside the Villar and Villafuerte stable where honey overflows.

At the end of the day there is not really any principle-centered contentious issue among the lower house members. What matters is who gets more and who gets less of the congressional allocations a.k.a pork barrel.

For the moment we might as well identify the contending parties belonging to the majority as the pork barrel alliances. More pointedly they can be identified either as pork barrel syndicate or pork barrel gang.