Cayetano gets support of House minority bloc amid speakership issue
MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives have expressed support for Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano amid the speakership issue now hounding the lower chamber.
In a manifesto dated September 25 that was signed by 16 members of the minority bloc led by Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr., the lawmakers said Cayetano has provided “sufficient democratic space” that allowed them to make their views known and advance their positions on various issues.
Aside from Abante, other lawmakers who signed the manifesto were:
Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin
Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte
Samar 2nd District Rep. Sharee Ann Tan
Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose Singson
Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr.
Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo
Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Joseph Cabatbat
Cavite 3rd District Rep. Alex Advincula
A Teacher Partylist Rep. Ma. Victoria Umali
Recoboda Partylist Rep. Godofredo Guya
Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun
Apec Partylist Rep. Sergio Dagooc
BHW Partylist Rep. Angelica Natasha Co
Zamboanga del Norte 3rd District Rep. Isagani Amazing
Kalinga Partylist Rep. Irene Gay Saulog
The lawmakers said the minority bloc’s opinions were met “with open discussion rather than close-minded dismissal.”
“This environment, in our view, is a product of the leadership of the House under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. Under his stewardship, the members of the Minority have been given free rein to exercise our right to speak for the voiceless, to stand up for the disenfranchised, and to champion the marginalized,” the lawmakers said.
“All these would not have been possible without the sufficient democratic space that has been generously provided by the Speaker,” they added.
“We are united with the Majority through our shared aspirations to serve the Filipino people, to fight for the oppressed, and to bring progress to the nation,” the lawmakers said of Cayetano’s leadership,
“It is in this context that we believe that the House of Representatives would be best served with the current leadership at the helm––especially now that we are in the middle of budget deliberations that are crucial to the recovery of our nation from the Covid-19 pandemic,” the lawmakers said.
While the bloc recognized that it is the majority that will eventually make the choice on who will lead the House, the minority lawmakers said: “It may be more prudent for us to table this discussion in the meantime, as our country is currently sailing through rough waters.”
“In such situations, it may be advisable to help the captain who has navigated us safely through this squall, rather than be sidetracked by a debate over whose hands should be on the rudder,” the lawmakers said.
The minority bloc likewise called on Congress to set politics aside and focus on the welfare of the public as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Isantabi muna natin ang pulitika, at tututukan natin ang dapat tutukan: ang kapakakan ng taumbayan,” the lawmakers said.
Recently, several lawmakers from different party lines took to the plenary floor to show their support for the leadership of Cayetano, declaring they will back him for the 21 remaining months of the 18th Congress.
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”.
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.
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