Last month, on the day President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her State of the Nations Address, the lower house of the Congress almost did not make it to elect the Speaker of the House.
The camp of Speaker Joe de Venecia did not want to use the secret balloting procedure espoused by the Garcia camp. Instead, they would like the raise your hand if you vote and do not raise your hand if you do not vote-procedure. They wanted to see for themselves who votes whom. So the the Lower House spent almost all day debating as to whose position to take–that of De Venecia or that of Garcia. In the end, the camp of Speaker Joe, through some insidious means, had their wish.
I understand why the camp of Representative Garcia wanted secret balloting in electing the speaker of the House. It has something to do with the pork barrel. Every Congressman/district representative receives an estimated 35 million pesos per year in pork barrel. But as to who among the Congressmen will receive the pork is upon the discretion of the President.
During elections, Congressmen promise projects to their constituents. Since projects require money, the only way they can fulfill that promise is through the availability of funds through the pork. It is not news that the legislative districts whose representative is an anti-administration receive their pork barrel late, if they receive at all.
Garcia and his camp must have some information about the dissatisfaction of most of the Congressmen under the leadership of Speaker De Venecia. Those Congressmen however were wise enough not to come out and declare their dissatisfaction by raising their hand in electing another person to be the Speaker of the House, at the expense of their being called liars by their constituents for unfulfilled promises.
If Speaker Joe was sure that he had the support of the majority of his coleagues, why bother about the process of selection? That votation without the use of secret ballots had been the practice of the Lower House and therefore should not be changed is an excuse, lame at that. People know the truth.