The fall of Icarus
The fate that has befallen Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano reminds me of the legend of Icarus in Greek mythology. Icarus got too eager to fly near the sun. His wings got burned, and Icarus fell into the sea.
Cayetano likewise reminds me of “The story of the moth” as narrated to the young Jose Rizal by his mother. A young moth got too attracted to the burning light of the oil lamp, despite warnings not to get too close to the fire. Its wings did catch fire, and the moth burned and died.
The sun and the fire that have scorched Cayetano’s wings represent his burning obsession for the presidency. Cayetano got too eager to get an edge over his rivals for President Duterte’s seat in 2022. He got burned so seriously, his smoldering wings will smell all the way to the next presidential election. Instead of gaining front-runner status, he is now at the tail-end of everyone’s list of potential candidates for the presidency.
It also remains to be seen if Cayetano will retain the speakership. For sure, his foes are furiously sharpening their daggers and waiting for the perfect time to thrust them into Cayetano’s back, in order to wrest control of the House leadership.
Cayetano has been pointing accusatory fingers in all directions, blaming the media, opposition personalities and the Senate for the barrage of criticisms he has been getting because of the terrible mishaps in the preparations for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Insinuating that there’s a conspiracy to undermine him and put the Duterte administration in a bad light, he has threatened to do an investigation to expose the personalities behind the plot. Unfortunately for him, any authentic investigation to search for accountability will lead to his doorstep.
If there’s conspiracy, then the foreign athletes of Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and Timor-Leste who complained of their food, hotel and transportation misfortunes are conspirators. Contractors who were delayed in completing some of the sports venues are conspirators as well. Even a then-dying National Artist for architecture, Francisco Mañosa, would be a conspirator for supposedly submitting a P50-million cauldron design that reflects unflatteringly on his creative reputation.
But criticisms against Cayetano have not only come from the usual suspects of detractors. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Sen. Bong Go, Senate President Tito Sotto, and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., have all made varying decibels of denunciation. Are all of them conspirators as well?
Cayetano has only himself to blame for the quagmire he has gotten himself into. He was gifted with two plum, powerful and high-profile posts that any other politician would envy as platforms for bolstering one’s chances in a presidential run. But Cayetano was not content. He craved for more. He wanted to preside over and ensnare the extensive publicity that would accompany our country’s hosting of the SEA Games. Others insinuate opportunities for corruption to fatten a war chest.
As foreign secretary, he took control of the P7.5-billion budget allotted for the SEA Games, even if his department had nothing to do with sports. When he moved up the ladder of power as Speaker, he persisted in clinging to a position of control over the handling of the SEA Games by getting himself to head the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation, a private foundation that, for all intents and purposes, had full control of the billions of public funds intended for the SEA Games.
Cayetano deflects all criticisms by asserting that he will not earn a single centavo from the games, and that he’s willing to take a lie detector test to dispel suspicions. He may be speaking the truth, but the extensive media mileage he stands to earn is a more valuable currency coveted by politicians. For a politician with an eye on the presidency, high-profile publicity is more valuable than gold.
Will Cayetano transform himself from a fallen Icarus to a phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from the ashes? He will now need heaps and loads of real currency to spawn his own rebirth.
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