Analyst: Patronage politics, conduct of Speakership race ‘sadly’ nothing new


Posted at Jul 10 2019 01:57 AM | Updated as of Jul 10 2019 02:28 AM

MANILA—The way the Speaker of the House of Representatives was determined and the amount of patronage politics that went in the race was upsetting, an expert said on Tuesday.

"They (Congress) really are bringing the reality that patronage is the currency of our politics. And we should be embarrassed about that," political analyst Michael Yusingco told ANC. 

"We should be disgusted about that because when patronage is the currency that they use, horse-trading or coalition-building to put it more mildly, the legislature becomes about positions and privileges and not about policies and reforms."

Yusingco, of the Ateneo de Manila School of Government, said the kind of politics that was demonstrated is not illegal, but the system needs to be changed. 

"The Constitution just says that the Senate and the House of Representatives shall respectively elect the Speaker and the Senate President," he said.

"The procedure, the protocol, the requirements, it's not spelled out in the Constitution so nothing in the Constitution explicitly bars this kind of behavior from our politicians."

Yusingco stressed that reforms should take place in Congress to avoid the type of behavior that went on display.

"We need structural reform, we need political reform, [and] probably we need constitutional reform," the lawyer said.

The Speakership race race, contested by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, intensified in May after President Rodrigo Duterte stated he would not endorse a single candidate as they were all "competent lawyers."

This led to Duterte's super majority coalition of his allies in the House breaking up into different groups. 

However, the President on Monday endorsed a term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco as the next Speaker, while Romualdez will be the majority leader.

Critics called this "a move to save the Duterte administration's 'fractious' coalition."