Cayetano open to serve full term of speakership
MANILA, Philippines — Saying he’s just human, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday expressed openness to the idea of serving a full term, that is, if his colleague, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, agreed to it.
Before the 18th Congress opened in July, the two lawmakers agreed on a term-sharing deal in which Cayetano would serve as Speaker for the first 15 months and Velasco would take over for the remaining 21 months.
President Rodrigo Duterte brokered the deal as the speakership fight grew increasingly uncertain.
“[Am I] open to the possibility? If Congressman Velasco himself tells me, ‘You be the one,’ it’s not like I could force him [to take over], right?” Cayetano told reporters.
Velasco did not respond to requests for comment.
In recent weeks, Cayetano’s allies in the 300-strong chamber, including Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., began floating the possibility of him staying on as Speaker, citing his strong approval and trust ratings.
On Monday, the Speaker said he remained committed to the deal with Velasco, though he acknowledged his own personal desire to stay in his post. The Taguig lawmaker is widely rumored to be interested in seeking higher office in 2022.
“We’re only human. We are public servants and we also believe in our own leadership. How can other people believe in my leadership if I don’t believe in my own leadership?” Cayetano told reporters.
But he added that Velasco had his own brand of leadership and his own following in the chamber.
“He’s also the head of the President’s party so I also have to respect that,” Cayetano said. Velasco belongs to the nominal ruling party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, while Cayetano is with the Nacionalista Party.
For now, Cayetano said he would rather focus on legislative work, instead of ruminating on whether he should stay or go once his term of 15 months was up.
“It’s more productive for me to contemplate … After the 15th month, I have to say I’ve done my job. Now the question is: Did I do it well or not?” he said.
In the first few months of Cayetano’s term, 22 lawmakers —including President Duterte’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte — were elected deputy speakers, nearly double the 12 deputy speakers in the 17th Congress.
The chamber also passed the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 budget bill in September, two weeks ahead of schedule, avoiding a repeat of the delayed enactment of the 2019 budget over allegations of pork insertions.
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