Speakership: The President’s call must be heeded

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco | Photo courtesy of pna.gov.ph

In the history of politics, there have been several instances where agreements were not honored, especially when it comes to the lower house of Congress. This is the situation now with the political squabble involving Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Congressman Lord Allan Velasco over a gentleman’s agreement dubbed as “15-21”Cayetano, Speaker for the first 15 months, then Velasco, the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

The big difference today is that we are experiencing one of the worst crises we have ever faced in the history of our country. This type of political squabbling must stop immediately, with all parties having to heed the call of the President. We need the budget to be passed today, not tomorrow. The President is right – he will ultimately be the one to answer to the people. If these two gentlemen claim to be loyal to the President or ultimately to the country, then they need to shape up or be shipped out by the people. It’s bad enough our Congress doesn’t have such a good reputation.

The President in many instances tells government workers – including me – to “just do your job.” Failure to pass the budget on time could result in a reenacted budget which would not be responsive to the pandemic situation. As Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado noted that failure to pass the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget on time would really affect our economy. In fact, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez has been seeking the swift passage of the national budget, saying it is a major component in the government’s comprehensive plan to rebuild the economy and defeat the pandemic.

“How a country’s economy performs during COVID and how quickly it can bounce back once the crisis is over will depend on its economic resilience,” Secretary Sonny pointed out.

The President is right – we have so many problems that need to be resolved. They need to scrutinize the proposed budget and pass it on time because the lives of many Filipinos depend on it. Besides, any failure to implement projects and programs that are critical in mitigating the impact of the pandemic will not be blamed on the congressmen and their squabbles but ultimately on the President and his administration.

Many people are very disappointed at having to witness this kind of situation where legislators are getting admonished like schoolchildren by the President, who has called for a special session of Congress next week to resume the 2021 budget deliberations – issuing a stern warning that he would step in should there be any delay that would result in the “derailment of government service.”

As Senate President Tito Sotto said, Filipinos should not become “collateral damage” by all this political squabbling. Our legislators need to be politically mature and do what is best for our people – especially now when the country’s survival is at stake.

The most watched health condition

Never has a president of the United States been so scrutinized for his health as Donald Trump is today, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 the other Friday. The minute the news broke out – with no less than President Trump announcing it on Twitter – media networks here in the United States went on a 24-hour media frenzy, watching every single move made by Donald Trump, reporting every update and development, including the people he spoke with or have been in contact with.

In fact, the scrutiny has been almost microscopic to the point that there has been almost nothing else in the news during the past week – from his 7-minute helicopter trip to Walter Reed hospital, the motorcade outside where he waved at supporters, his return to the Oval Office, his oxygen levels, the medicines prescribed and every other detail that reporters could get their hands on.

With just a little over three weeks to go before the US presidential election on Nov. 3, the president testing positive for COVID-19 has become a major election issue, especially since over 7.6 million Americans have been infected while the number of casualties reported has reached over 213,000.

According to the latest nationwide CNN poll conducted by SSRS, democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is leading by 16 points at 57 percent while President Trump is at 41 percent. Individual poll results in several battleground states also showed Biden in the lead, with analysts saying the first presidential debate and the COVID-19 infection were key factors in the outcome of the surveys.

While the president’s supporters were shocked by the news about his infection, they continued to express support, with some even fatalistically saying that they have come to realize that no one is exempted from getting infected, including the “most powerful man on earth” – and that everyone needs to live with it.

However, the number of baby boomers who were solid for President Trump are dwindling. The latest polls show Biden at 60 percent while the president is at 39 percent, with the coronavirus seemingly a major factor as more than half of those who died of COVID-19 were over 65 years old.

The whole world is watching the developments here in the US. Whoever comes out the winner will have a global impact and affect relations with other countries like China, Russia and, of course, the ASEAN members. Foreign policy advisers of the Biden camp whom we touched base with tell us the Biden administration will highly likely continue with the current US policy on the South China Sea and China.

So who will be the next US president: Donald Trump or Joe Biden? We will know soon enough.
Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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