Velasco dangles budget, chairmanship to congressmen – Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — Eight months before the “first half” of the term-sharing deal for House leadership ends, things heat up in the lower chamber.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday claimed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who is set to take over as leader of the lower chamber in October under the term-sharing deal, is promising chairmanship and budget allocation to members of the lower chamber.
During the Lani Scholarship Distribution event in Taguig City, Cayetano said he received “verified” information regarding an “attempt” to oust him as Speaker.
“Normal naman kapag nahuhuli, nagde-deny. 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.’ I don’t think mangi-intriga ang 20 congressmen but don’t worry I don’t take it personally,” Cayetano told reporters.
Asked if he believes Velasco is involved in the alleged ouster plot, Cayetano said: “Nangangako ng pondo at chairman at yung iba siya mismo kausap.”
Cayetano labelled the alleged ouster plot as “divisive”, saying that such move affects the work of Congress.
The House leader also claimed that a “sabotage” on the budget was traced to Velasco’s camp.
“Meron kasing pananabotahe sa budget na nangyayari ngayon that I have to deal with na na-trace namin sa kampo nila,” Cayetano said.
In an earlier interview with reporters, Cayetano said that he is ready to step down the moment the majority of his colleagues want him replaced.
He claimed that issues, such as the pending bid for franchise renewal of ABS-CBN in the House of Representatives, are being used as the reason for him to step down.
To recall, in July 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte said Cayetano would serve as House Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress while Velasco will succeed to serve for the remaining 21 months under a term-sharing agreement.
If this is to be followed, Cayetano’s term would end in October this year.
Cayetano said Velasco has nothing to worry about as he is intending to stick with the term-sharing agreement.
“As you know, as a partyman, at tayo’y nasa koalisyon ng Presidente, I’ve always said pagdating sa leadership issue, susunod tayo sa Pangulo. So he has nothing nothing to worry about,” Cayetano said.
Step down if you cannot wait
Amid the alleged plot to oust Cayetano, the House Speaker called those occupying leadership posts in the lower chamber—such as committee chairpersons—to step down if they “cannot cooperate with the present leadership.”
Without dropping names, Cayetano said that if the said House leaders want to “sabotage” the budget to prod their preferred Speaker, they should just quit as chairmen of their committees.
“Umalis muna kayo sa committees n’yo, sa chairmanship n’yo, bumalik na lang kayo ‘pag Speaker na si Congressman Velasco,” Cayetano told reporters in Taguig City.
“But habang ako ang Speaker, we do things by consensus, kung ano ang tama ‘yun ang gagawin natin,” he added.
If this “sabotage” continues, Cayetano said he would have to remove them from their posts.
“I promise the congressmen na by conscience and consensus-based. So ayaw ko naman na magdikta at magtanggal,” Cayetano said.
“Pero kung actively na sinasabotahe at meron kaming investigation ongoing ngayon lalo sa budget, sa pondo,” he continued.
No ouster plan
But a few hours before Cayetano publicly accused Velasco of his involvement in the alleged ouster plot, the Marinduque congressman issued a statement.
In the said statement, Velasco denied the alleged plan to oust Cayetano, saying the reports are “baseless”.
“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.
Velasco also said that he is honoring the term-sharing deal.
“Up to this day, I continue to honor the term-sharing agreement brokered by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte when the 18th Congress convened in July 2019. From the beginning, I never had any intention of reneging on this agreement. Tayo po ay lalaking may isang salita,” Velasco said.
Velasco’s party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), also denied the said ouster plot.
Newly-appointed PDP-Laban spokesman Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel belied the allegations and said that the party is in “full support” of the programs of the current House leadership.
[EDV and AC]
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