PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte intervened anew in the row over the House of Representatives speakership as he sat down with incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco Tuesday evening, September 29, 2020.
At the end of the meeting, unconfirmed reports said Cayetano has agreed to abide by the gentlemen’s term-sharing agreement he forged with Velasco in July 2019 and step down on October 14, 2020.
Velasco is then supposed to take over as Speaker. Whether an elections would still be held to install Velasco as Speaker is not known.
There has been no official statement from both camps, or from Malacañang, with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying he would let the House make the announcement.
Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) executive director Ronwald Munsayac tweeted on Tuesday, “Tapos na po ang (hand in boxing glove) #1521”.
It was the second time for the President to intervene in the speakership contest.
In July 2019, Duterte also called the two congressmen and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, another contender, to a meeting and brokered a term-sharing deal.
On July 8, 2019, the President announced that Cayetano and Velasco have agreed to share the speakership. Romualdez will serve as Majority Leader.
Then presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Cayetano would serve as Speaker in the first 15 months while Velasco would lead the House in the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Cayetano was elected as Speaker on July 22, 2019.
Velasco on September 28, 2020 revealed that under their term-sharing agreement, Cayetano’s term will end on September 30, 2020.
Cayetano, however, has refused to step down as majority of the House membership expressed support for his leadership.
He claimed that Velasco hatched an ouster plot against him.
“Nangangako ng pondo at chairmanship, at 'yong iba siya mismo kausap, 'di ba? But as I said, 'pag nahuli ano pa ba sasabihin- Normal naman 'pag nahuhuli, nagde-deny,” Cayetano had told reporters.
“But unless about 20 congressmen are lying to me that pinapangakuan ng chairmanship at sinasabi na, ‘Next year, it’s my budget. Ako na magdidikta kung kanino ibibigay’ etcetera, etcetera, and I don’t think naman mang-iintriga ang 20 congressmen,” he added.
Velasco denied that he was behind the supposed coup plot against Cayetano.
“To my kababayans, these reports are far from the truth. The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte administration,” Velasco said.
Prior to the meeting on Tuesday evening, Munsayac said Velasco’s assumption as Speaker is a “realization of the party's major accomplishment of heading the lower chamber.”
Both Cayetano and Velasco are Duterte’s allies in Congress.
Cayetano was Duterte’s runningmate during the 2016 elections while Velasco is a member of the PDP Laban, the political party headed by the President. (Marites Villamor-Ilano with Jove Moya)