AS MORE members of the House of Representatives expressed their support for incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco said he has not turned his back on their term-sharing agreement.

“I have been silent during the duration of the gentleman’s agreement in deference and respect to the sitting Speaker. My silence does not mean I am disinterested nor I have turned my back on the covenant,” Velasco said in a Facebook post.

Under the agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2019, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for 15 months while Velasco will take over for the remaining months under the 18th Congress.

Cayetano was elected as Speaker on July 22, 2019 based on this agreement. His 15-month term as Speaker will end in October 2020.

Responding to criticisms that he has not shown leadership since last year, Velasco said he was ready to prove to his colleagues in the House that he is worthy of the position.

“When both parties finally honor the agreement, I will show my colleagues the kind of leadership I espouse. Thereafter, at the end of my term, my peers can then be the judge of my loyal service to God, to the President and ultimately, to the Filipino people,” Velasco said.

“Being party to the term-sharing agreement, one does not and should not seek to compete with the current Speaker as a gentleman’s agreement is in force. We will have our turn at the right time,” he added.

Cayetano’s allies have continuously rallied behind him, saying that replacing him cannot be prioritized until the problems related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic have been resolved.

Support for Cayetano

During the House plenary session Wednesday, September 23, 2020, Caloocan City District 2 Rep. Edgar Erice said Velasco’s aspirations should wait.

“The honorable Representative Lord Allan Velasco, the brilliant gentleman from Marinduque, has been a good and thoughtful brother to me, and to all of us. But I think at this very difficult time in our history, we don’t just need a good brother as much as we need the wisdom of a father,” Erice said during his speech.

“The leadership skills, the network of Alan Peter Cayetano is indispensable at this time. And we have to unite for him, we have to unite with him in these trying times. Velasco’s aspirations can wait. He is young, brilliant and only in his second term. In God’s time, he will shine, but not for now,” he added.

Cavite District 4 Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. likewise said he wants Cayetano to lead the House for the next 21 months.

Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor also supported Cayetano, saying that the Speaker has achieved high ratings from the public.

Misamis Occidental District 2 Rep. Henry Oaminal, for his part, said that it is “unwise” to change House leadership as the nation wallows in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We find it unwise to rock the boat of the country’s legislative institution while our nation wallows in this global health pandemic, to which undivided attention and united efforts of the country's leaders are paramount,” he said.

Batangas District 1 Rep. Elenita Ermita Buhain also expressed her support for Cayetano, saying that the Speaker “has accomplished so much in leading the House of Representatives in achieving its institutional mandate of passing timely, relevant and development-driven legislation.”

Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur 1st District Rep. Deogracias Victor “DV” Savellano said the Northern Luzon Alliance supports Cayetano.

“We believe he has accomplished so much in the delivery of what has been mandated to us at the House of Representatives for the development of our country, especially to the barangays,” the lawmaker said.

“The Northern Luzon Alliance is behind and will support all of his initiatives and endeavors,” he added.

The House will resume its plenary session at 10 a.m. Monday, September 28.

Presidential son and House Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, who earlier confirmed that he will move to declare as vacant the positions of House speaker and deputy speakers, has yet to make a move. (SunStar Philippines)