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House divided by power struggle

Atienza says Cayetano to declare House posts vacant, call for polls

/ 12:53 PM March 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza Jr. on Monday said Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s camp is moving to declare all House of Representatives posts vacant and then call for an election.

According to Atienza, this supposed “drama” from Cayetano would only create chaos and divide the chamber, and eventually rescind the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and another speaker candidate, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

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“‘Yon ang nakuha kong balita, na he would be the one to cause the call to all positions vacant.  Gawin niya, nang malaman ng buong bansa kung sino ang may pagnanasa sa pwesto, sino ang magpapatawag ng eleksyon sa Kongreso nang wala sa lugar?” he told reporters in an ambush interview.

“Sasabihin ko na sa inyo, gumagawa ng drama ito, (I tell you, they are creating a drama) then he will be the one to move for a declaration of positions vacant. Why?  Because he wants an elections now, and not to honor the agreement that he entered into,” he added.

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Over the weekend, rumors circulated that there would be a major shake-up in the House positions, but the reasons for such measures were unknown.

However, Cayetano previously insisted that the ABS-CBN franchise issue and possible budgetary allocations are being used by lawmakers — supposedly led by Velasco’s camp — to oust him from the speakership.

Asked why Cayetano is looking for an election, Atienza said that the Speaker currently believes he has the command, which may eventually result to the dissolution of the “gentleman’s agreement” between him and Velasco over the speakership.

In 2019, before the 18th Congress opened, a three-corner fight ensured for the speakership, featuring Cayetano, Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.  President Rodrigo Duterte intervened, arranging a 15-21 term for Cayetano and Velasco — 15 months for Cayetano and 21 months for Velasco. Romualdez became deputy majority leader of the House.

“Now he believes he has the number. But if he follows the agreement, he will have to step down, so pinili niya ipilit ‘yong election,” Atienza said.

“Para bagang ‘yong natatalo sa sugal, o kaya ayaw bumitaw, manggugulo na lang (It’s like losing in a gamble, because he does not want to let go, he will just spur trouble.) He will declare all positions vacant.  You watch it,” he added.

Velasco’s PDP-Laban, which is also the party of Duterte, denied the alleged coup, saying that they respect the term-sharing agreement set by the President himself.

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READ: PDP-Laban denies alleged ‘coup’ vs. Cayetano

Atienza claimed Velasco would not hatch such a plot.

He urged Cayetano’s camp to push through with the elections for the House posts, “so that people would see who is propagating such coup rumors.”

“Kung may plano si Velasco, hindi ganyan, maghihintay siya hanggang dumating ‘yong Oktubre.  Pero kung may plano si Cayetano, ‘yon ang aking pinaniwalaan dahil ‘yong kanyang mga dagang dingding, hindi na alam kung ano ang sasabihin,” he added.

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TAGS: Buhay party list, House, House of Representatives, Philippine news updates, Rep. Lito Atienza, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Speaker Alan Cayetano, speaker coup, Speakership, term sharing
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