House ‘coup’ linked to PSALM hearings
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday accused his rival and would-be successor Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of starting a “commotion” to stop the ongoing House investigation into the P100-billion debts being pursued by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM).
“A commotion was caused because allegedly members of [Velasco’s] staff were harassing the witnesses for PSALM,” Cayetano said at a press conference, referring to the ongoing House inquiry into the P95.3 billion supposedly owed by six private power firms for the operation of various power plants that they took over from the National Transmission Corp.
Cayetano claimed that Velasco was trying to block the hearings because of his close links to influential people in the power sector.
“[B]ut I always tell them, ‘sorry but we have to investigate your company.’ The instructions from the President were clear: There will be no sacred cows in trying to collect debts for the government,” he added.
Cayetano and Velasco have been locked in a power struggle in the House, with Cayetano accusing the Marinduque representative of instigating a coup to oust him.
The two have a term-sharing agreement, with Cayetano holding the Speaker’s post for the first 15 months of the three-year Congress, and Velasco assuming the post in the last 21 months.
On Monday, Velasco allies Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Salvador Leachon were stripped of chairmanship of the committees on appropriations and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, respectively.