Over 200 lawmakers sign manifesto for Cayetano’s continued speakership
MANILA, Philippines — At least 202 of the 299-member House of Representatives have backed the continued speakership of Alan Peter Cayetano.
The lawmakers signed the “Manifesto of Recommitment to the Filipino People and the Leadership of Alan Peter Cayetano” – which essentially goes against the term sharing agreement between the Taguig-Pateros congressman and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019.
Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez confirmed Monday the routing of the manifesto among House legislators as well as the number of lawmakers supporting Cayetano’s stay as Speaker. Fernandez admitted he also signed the document, which copy was obtained by members of the media on Sunday.
“This is not the right time to change leadership. As a matter of fact, ‘yung mga pumirma diyan, talagang willingly, they intend talaga to sign at sila mismo ang nagsasabi [na] gumawa tayo ng manifesto of support na huwag magpalit ng leadership dahil nga sa situation nation ngayon,” Fernandez said in an interview with reporters.
(This is not the right time to change leadership. Those who signed the manifesto really intended to sign and they were the ones who do not want a change in leadership because of the current situation.)
Fernandez also bared that it was not those who are close to Cayetano who initiated the manifesto.
“Even nga sa minority, sila ang nagsasabi na gusto rin nilang sumuporta kay Speaker. Halos lahat ng mga deputy speakers nagtatawagan kay Speaker na ‘I will initiate’,” Fernandez said.
(Even the minority, they are the ones who are saying they want to support the Speaker. Almost all deputy speakers called Cayetano saying they will initiate the manifesto.)
According to the manifesto obtained by INQUIRER.net, the manifesto was signed by some House leaders as well as leaders from different political parties.
Notably, the said manifesto also had the signatures of Deputy Speakers Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Johnny Pimentel—both of whom are from PDP-Laban, Velasco’s political party. INQUIRER.net has reached out to both House leaders for comment but has yet to receive a reply as of posting time.
According to our copy of the manifesto, aside from Fernandez, Gonzales, and Pimentel, those who signed the manifesto include:
House Majority Leader and LAKAS-CMD President Martin Romualde
Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. from the National Unity Party (NUP)
NUP President and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
Public Accounts Committee chair Rep. Michael Defensor
Deputy Majority Leader Juan Miguel Macapagal-Arroyo
Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher Belmonte
Assistant Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo
Deputy Speaker and House Women’s Legislators President Rose Marie Arenas
Deputy Speaker and Northern Alliance President Deogracias Victor Savellano
Southern Luzon Alliance President Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain
House committee on Visayas Development chairperson Vincent Franco Frasco
Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia
Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal
Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay Jr.
House committee on Dangerous Drugs chairperson Robert Ace Barbers
Senior Deputy Minority Leader Janette Gamin
Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez
Deputy Speaker Robert Puno
Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu
Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales II
Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta
Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto
In the manifesto, the lawmakers expressed their “continued full and equivocal support for Speaker Cayetano and the entire leadership of the House, and join the President in his desire to allow the membership to chart its own course in choosing those who would lead in this chamber.”
“The burden of leadership comes with certain privileges, among which is the honor to represent our fellow citizens in matters of public importance. But with this also comes the challenge of living up to the high standards of our countrymen,” the manifesto reads.
“And in this, we the members of the Duterte administration Super Majority Coalition in the 18th Congress, now come together and pledge our commitment to the continued leadership of Speaker Cayetano as we strive to always put the best interests of the Filipino ahead at all times,” it also states.
The manifesto likewise called for the immediate passage of the proposed national budget for 2021.
“Amid the political noise that has enveloped, and threatened to derail the smooth and immediate passage of the 2021 General Appropriations Act in the House of Representatives, members of the 18th Congress are now called upon to act – bearing in mind the welfare of their constituents and of the country as a whole – and put aside partisan bickering in favor of the larger People’s agenda that calls for a fair, balanced, and equitable budget that will help the country recover swiftly from the effects of COVID-19,” the manifesto notes.
Based on the July 2019 “gentleman’s agreement,” Cayetano would serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives 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 next month, October.
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.”
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