MEMBERS of the House of Representatives will still have the final say on who will lead them as Speaker until the end of the 18th Congress, Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said on Wednesday, September 30, 2020.
Villafuerte made the statement in an interview over television following reports that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has agreed to honor the term-sharing deal with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco and step down on October 14, 2020.
“Speaker Alan will honor the agreement but the members will still have to decide. We will pass the budget, we will assert our power of the purse contrary to what Lord has said and he has to convince his peers na wala talagang palitan sa chairmanship," Villafuerte said.
"Si Speaker [Cayetano] has clearly stated that he will honor. But he also made it clear, not in defiance, as a matter of fact, na hindi siya nagde-defy sa coalition. Sabi niya, ‘Mr. President, I will honor the agreement. I will resign if I have to anytime, but I cannot speak for my supporters, colleagues, and members of the House’,” he added.
Villafuerte denied that a date has been set for Velasco to take over.
“Ang sinabi ni President, he will let Alan speak first on what happened. Wala pang two minutes, nagkaroon na ng date, October 14. Wala naman sinabi eh. I am a hundred percent sure, hindi sinabi ‘yun,” he said, referring to the September 29 meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on the speakership row.
Based on the term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte among Cayetano, Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez in July 2019, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for 15 months and Velasco will take over for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Romualdez, who was also a contender, agreed to serve as House Majority Leader.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the House shall elect its Speaker every fourth Monday of July by a majority vote of all its respective members.
A Speaker may be officially removed from office through a coup, or can be replaced if the Speaker died or resigned.
Majority of the congressmen may also move to declare the House Speakership as vacant if they decide to withdraw their support. This will open an election for a new Speaker.
Under the current 18th Congress, there are 304 members in the House composed of 243 legislative district representatives and 61 party-list representatives. (Jove Moya/SunStar Philippines)