The competition of bureaucrat-capitalists vying for positions escalated quickly after the elections. No less than four expressed their intention to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In the Senate, senators are involved in arm twisting to get hold of powerful committees.
Even as they compete against each other, these politicians and parties actually unite with Duterte’s agenda and dictates. In fact, they are all part of Duterte’s supermajority in both Houses. Two are members of PDP-Laban—Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. The two other contenders are Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig City who was Duterte’s running mate in 2016, and Lakas-CMD’s Martin Romualdez of Leyte who is a first cousin of Imee Marcos. As of today, neither of the four none has a clear chance of getting a majority vote.
In the senate, rumors that Cynthia Villar of NP will be replacing its president Vicente Sotto abound. She is supported by they new senators from the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) who threatened to establish a “new majority” in the Senate if Sotto fails to give them chairmanships of their desired committees. HNP, Sotto’s allied Party, is led by Duterte’s daughter Sara.
Despite seeming rivalries, Duterte’s dominance over the new Senate and Congress is evident. A number of ambitious politicians seeking to get his endorsement pledged to advance his agenda. Foremost of which is his bogus federalism through charter change which has been stuck in Senate. This is in conjunction with other measures for intensified state fascism, including proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibililty, implement mandatory military training of students, and amend the Human Security Act.
These politicians are completely silent over Duterte’s bloodlust, corruption and subservience to foreign powers. On the one hand, they prove that they are all one and the same in essence. On the other hand, their submissiveness exposes the cruelty of the ruling clique. Duterte controls the whole state machinery—from intelligence to tax agencies— and he has no qualms of using it to suppress even his own allies. He is ensuring that no group, even within his clique, will be able to come up with the numbers or strength to challenge his control over the state.
This rivalry is said to be a competition of big businesses as well. The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) is a bloc that is allied with bourgeois comprador Eduardo Cojuangco. The National Unity Party (NUP) is headed by Ronaldo Puno and its operations funded by Enrique Razon. NP is currently dominated by the Villar family.
The rivalry of these crooked politicians revolves around issues of monopolization of fat government contracts, acquiring franchises of public utilities, shutting down proposals that are detrimental to their businesses and the creation of laws that favor their interests.
Duterte is making it appear that the competition for the Congress leadership is “free-for-all.” In truth, however, no competition for the House Speakership and the Senate Presidency have been resolved without the intervention of the incumbent president. As in the past, Duterte will decide in favor of the representative who can give him the most benefit, as well as the said congressman’s degree of closeness to him and his family. He wont hesitate to replace any ally who fails to serve his interest.
The rivalry and competition in congress is a reflection of the rotten ruling political system in the Philippines. The congress of the reactionary state is dominated by bureaucrat-capitalists. In particular, the 18th Congress that is set to open will certainly support and advance Duterte’s fascism and corruption, as well as his oppressive and treasonous agenda.
Duterte’s congress must be assiduously exposed and opposed. The people must arduously resist and convey their firm dissent primarily against Duterte’s plan to overhaul the 1987 constitution to pave the way for reinforcing his dictatorial rule.
The opening of congress in the coming weeks must be met with militant and broad protests to convey the nation’s readiness to resist any of its plans that will oppress, suppress and assail the interests of the Filipino people.