The political intramurals being played at the House of Representatives over the speakership issue is a manifestation of cracks within the Duterte ruling fascist coalition. The shameless jockeying for position is part of the bigger competition to get a bigger slice in the 2021 pork barrel budget, especially with the fast approaching 2022 elections.
On September 30, 184 of 300 members of the House of Representative voted to reject the show of an offer of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to resign from his post. The exercise was denounced by many as a waste of people’s time and money.
Cayetano’s offer to resign, instead of actually resigning, was meant as a stopple to the “term sharing agreement” which he entered with Cong. Lord Allan Velasco. Under this agreement, Cayetano would sit as speaker for the first 15 months of their term, while Velasco will take over the last 21 months. Cayetano is being denounced for clinging to power and reneging on the “gentlemen’s agreement.”
The vote against Cayetano’s show of a resignation offer was an indirect slap on Duterte, who himself facilitated and brokered the deal for term-sharing first reached in 2019 and reaffirmed in a recent Malacañang meeting. It shows Duterte’s sway over his minions in Congress is not absolute, and that not all are satisfied by the sharing arrangements over the perks and privileges of power.
Both Cayetano and Velasco professs loyalty to the tyrant Duterte. They represent different groups or factions within the Duterte ruling clique. These have acted in unison to allow Duterte to further accumulate bureaucrat capitalist and fascist power, which recently included the so-called Anti-Terror Law, the denial of the ABS-CBN franchise and the granting of extraordinary powers for Duterte to realign the budget amid the pandemic.
However, reactionary politicians are loyal only as long they are fed well and in relative equality. As long as their congressional districts receive funding for showcase construction of roads, waiting sheds and other infrastructure projects where they can plaster their names onto, political minions in congress will continue to serve well the tyrant and its appointed subalterns. They become increasingly difficult to feed and satisfy whenever elections approach as they demand more to spend to get reelected or seek greater powers.
The intensification of the Cayetano-Velasco dispute is inextricably linked with the ongoing deliberations of the 2021 budget, specifically their share in the ₱397 billion pork barrel funds subsumed under the Department of Public Works and Highways. The Velasco faction have raised complaints over the “inequitable allocation of funding” for infrastructure projects, pointing out that Cayetano’s Taguig district and his allies in Camarines Sur will get ₱11.1 and ₱11 billion funding respectively, while districts of non-allies are set to receive only ₱2 billion.
The House conflicts are set to go on high-gear in the coming days with the Velasco faction demanding that Cayetano abide by the “term-sharing” deal and resign on October 14, the date they agreed upon for the leadership transfer. If Cayetano acts otherwise, they have threatened to declare vacant the House Speaker post to pave the way for a showdown.
The contradictions in the House of Represenatives are a reflection of the rising contradictions within the Duterte ruling clique. These are set to deepen and widen in the coming period as the crisis of the ruling system worsen and the avarice of Duterte and his minions become even more impossible to satiate. The contradictions will become even more apparent as the 2022 election campaign period approaches, or as Duterte’s charter change or other schemes to perpetuate their power are accelerated.
These fissures are bound to be open conflicts within the military and police, specifically between the rival criminal syndicates, and between its officers engaged in high-stake corruption and gross violations of human rights. There are bound to emerge within the ranks of military and police officers those who see the impossibility of ending the armed conflict in the country through a military-led war of suppression.
Contradictions are also bound to further deepen as international pressure on the Duterte regime mounts in the face of widespread condemnation of rights abuses perpetrated by Duterte’s military and police forces, as well as Duterte’s subservience to China and allowing it build military facilities in the South China Sea. From the US congress to the European parliament, calls have reverberated demanding an end to the state-perpetrated killings against activists and in its so-called drug war. He is also being pressed by recent takedown of Facebook accounts being operated by the military.
The Filipino people must take advantage of these contradictions within the ruling clique by further exposing the crimes, corruption, brutality and subservience of the regime and building the broadest unity among all patriotic and democratic classes and sectors. They must vigorously speak up against the regime’s pork barrel and counterinsurgency budget for 2021 that is utterly anti-people and anti-poor especially amid the pandemic and the urgency of racking up government spending for medical, economic and educational services. They must denounce the rivalries for power and privilege while people suffer from the failed opening of classes, rising costs of fare, health care, food security and other urgent socio-economic problems.
Some minions are disenchanted that they are left with orts by Duterte’s insatiable inner circle. They must be encouraged to renounce the regime of greed and tyranny.
The Filipino people must be further roused to resist Duterte’s fascist, puppet and corrupt regime. The evils of the regime must be laid bare in order to rouse their indignation and strengthen their determination to fight back.
The broad masses of workers, peasants and semiproletariat must take action in great numbers in the factories, urban communities and rural villages. Tireless propaganda and education work must be conducted among them. The toiling masses must fight for their rights and well-being especially amid the economic crisis and hold the regime accountable for corruption and mispriorities.
At the same time, the alliance among the middle forces must continue to expand and grow in strength and militance. The student youth, teachers, nurses and health workers, government employees, church people, women, opposition forces and other democratic sectors must continue to come together and broaden the ranks of the anti-Duterte united front.
The politically advanced section of Party cadres and mass activists must take lead and serve as models in the arduous and often dangerous work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses. Only by mobilizing the people in their numbers can victory be attained.
The Party must continue to lead the New People’s Army in waging extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare. The rising numbers of tactical offensives against the regime over the past several weeks show the nationwide capacity of the NPA and determination to fight the fascist regime and help in its overthrow.
By waging all forms of resistance, the broad masses of the Filipino people can further isolate and weaken the Duterte fascist regime. The regime’s resort to state terrorism will surely be defeated in the face of the people’s determination to gain back their freedoms and fight for democracy.