MANILA

Palace reiterates hands-off policy on House leadership row

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MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere with the decision of members of the House of Representatives to replace or retain Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

According to Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque, the President hopes that Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco will honor their term-sharing agreement, but the ultimate decision will be in the hands of every congressman.

"Tinanong ko po siya dito kagabi at dahil sinagot niya ako uulitin ko po ang sagot niya. He’s hoping na tutupad sa usapan ang partido pero kung wala pong number si Congressman Lord Allan eh wala po siyang magagawa," Roque said.

"So the President is hoping that the Speaker and Congressman Velasco will honor their agreement but ultimately the decision will be the decision of the individual congressmen. Ang sabi po niya, to quote talaga is 'Kung walang numero si Lord Allan, wala siyang magagawa’," he added.

Duterte endorsed a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco in July 2019.

The agreement allows Cayetano to lead the House for 15 months. Cayetano was elected as Speaker on July 22, 2019.

Velasco, on the other hand, will lead the House for the remaining months of the 18th Congress.

Roque said that if Velasco fails to garner support from his colleagues, the President will not step in to secure the House Speaker position for him.

"Dinagdag nga niya [President Duterte], kung talagang walang numero si Lord Allan wala rin akong magagawa'," the spokesperson said.

Roque dismissed allegations that the ouster plot against Cayetano stemmed from graft and corruption allegations and that lawmakers were protecting their pet projects in the House of Representatives.

"Sa akin po, huwag naman nating bigyan ng bahid ng kahit ano. Mayroon pong presumption of good faith, mayroon po talagang karapatan ang mga indibidwal na miyembro ng Kamara ang hahalal ng kanilang liderato," he said.

"Ang budget po nag-originate sa Malacañang. What Congress can do is they can decrease the budget, but they cannot increase it and they can also re-allocate funds, pero kung mayroong dadagdagan na pondo, mayroong item na mababawasan. Iyan po ay hurisdiksyon naman ng Kamara,"he added.

Last Sunday, Presidential son and House Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte confirmed that he had threatened to move to declare as vacant the positions of House Speaker and deputy speakers after receiving complaints on budget allocation in different districts nationwide. (SunStar Philippines)


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