Cayetano meets with Paolo Duterte amid speakership issues
MANILA, Philippines — As the speakership issue in the House of Representatives continues to heat up, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano met with presidential son and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte in Davao City.
In an Instagram post by ACT-CIS Partylist representative and House appropriations chair Eric Yap, Cayetano, together with his wife Taguig City Rep. Lani Cayetano, are seen with Duterte. Also with them were Yap and House Deputy Secretary-General Brian Yamsuan.
The post was captioned “Chillax night,” with one of the photos showing the House officials seemingly sharing a dinner.
In another post, the House officials are seen in front of a swimming pool.
Asked about the gathering, Yap told INQUIRER.net that it was not work-related.
“Walang work-related po. Nag-kwentuhan lang po regarding mga personal life. Catching up po,” Yap said in a text message.
(It’s not work-related. We only chatted about our personal lives. Just catching up.)
The gathering happened just as the speakership issue in the lower chamber began to make the headlines once again.
To recall, in a text message that recently spread, Duterte supposedly said in a Viber group of congressmen that he will “ask the Mindanao bloc to declare the seat of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers vacant” on September 21 so that the region will not “die” for lack of budget amid lawmakers’ disagreements.
But during the session on September 21, no ouster happened.
In a television interview hours before the September 21 session, Yap, a close ally of Duterte, said Duterte never said he would personally declare the leadership posts vacant.
“‘Yung sinabi niya is parang sinasabi niya sa mga members na kung kayo nagrereklamo, hindi kayo masaya sa leadership, edi kayo mag-declare ng vacancy sa leadership. Ang stand niya from the start is pagdating sa budget, ayaw niya makialam,” Yap said.
(What he is said if there are congressmen who want to complain and not happy with the leadership, then they should declare the leadership posts vacant. His stand from the start when it comes to the budget is that he doesn’t want to meddle.)
“Never naman niyang sinabi na he will declare. Ang sabi niya, he will ask the Mindanao bloc kung may reklamo sila, then sila mag-declare kasi siya, wala naman siyang reklamo dahil hindi siya nakikialam sa budget eh,” he added.
(He never said that he will declare the posts vacant. What he said was he will ask the Mindanao bloc if they have issues, they can declare the vacancy.)
The speakership issue resurfaced during the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget briefing before the House appropriations panel when Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. questioned the distribution of funds between congressional districts, particularly those of Cayetano and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte in Taguig City and Camarines Sur, respectively.
The recent arguments over the proposed 2021 national budget have led many to question if this is related to the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
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 will end in October this year.
In February, Cayetano claimed that Velasco is promising chairmanship and budget allocation to members of the lower chamber, saying that he received “verified” information regarding an “attempt” to oust him as Speaker.
Velasco denied the alleged plan to oust Cayetano, saying the reports regarding the issue were “baseless”.
But recently, several lawmakers from different party lines took to the plenary floor to show their support for the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, declaring they would back him for the 21 remaining months of the 18th Congress.
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