Fernandez: Velasco camp ‘betrayal’ pushes call to retain Cayetano as Speaker
MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez on Monday cited “betrayal” from the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco in their push to let Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano retain the speakership.
In an online interview with reporters, Fernandez claimed that Velasco’s camp had attempted to oust Cayetano twice despite their term-sharing agreement, as brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Ngayon nga kasi parang nagkaroon ng parang betrayal. Si Speaker (Cayetano) naman he will follow the term-sharing agreement. Unfortunately, twice na nangyari itong attempt. Remember, nung isang beses nangyari na ‘yan, ngayon ‘eto na naman,” Fernandez said.
(There seemed to be a betrayal. Speaker Cayetano will follow the term-sharing agreement but unfortunately, the attempt to oust him has happened twice. Remember, it happened the first time and then it happened again.)
To recall, in February, Cayetano claimed that Velasco was 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 that he would follow the term-sharing deal.
The speakership issue again resurfaced during the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget briefing 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.
Teves belongs to the PDP-Laban party, Velasco’s political party, while Villafuerte is a known close ally of Cayetano.
While Teves has denied that his questions regarding the budget were not related to the speakership row, the recent arguments over the proposed 2021 national budget nonetheless led many to question if this is related to the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco.
Fernandez claimed that Velasco’s camp wanted Cayetano to look bad in the eyes of Duterte.
“Ang mabigat, budget hearing at ito ‘yung budget ng Pilipinas, budget ngayong pandemic, eh guguluhin mo. Eh ‘di siyempre magkakaroon ng problem. Even the President will not trust us anymore kasi nga, he wanted to pass this budget expeditiously para naman mabigay natin ‘yung serbisyo sa ating mga mamamayan,” Fernandez said.
(What’s hard about this is it’s during the budget hearing. It’s the budget for the pandemic and you will try to mess it up. Of course, there would be a problem. Even the president will not trust us anymore because he wanted to pass this budget expeditiously for our constituents to receive the services.)
“But those groups wanted to make the leadership, especially the Speaker, to look bad in the eyes of the President. So si Speaker parang ano ba naman ‘yan. Nung una, medyo mapapatawad niya, ‘yung unang attempt. Pero ito second attempt na, parang wow,” he added.
(But those groups wanted to make the leadership, especially the Speaker, to look bad in the eyes of the President. At first, the Speaker can forgive. But in the second attempt, it’s surprising.)
INQUIRER.net has reached out to Velasco for a comment but has yet to receive a response as of posting time.
Fernandez likewise pointed out that Velasco was not in Congress as lawmakers put urgent measures and investigated several government issues during the pandemic.
“During all those hearings na investigating a lot of things about different corruptions, andun kami and magkakasama kami and we are helping the leadership. Unfortunately for Congressman Lord Velasco, he was never there,” Fernandez said.
(During all those hearings and we were investigating a lot of things about different corruptions, we were there in Congress. Unfortunately for Congressman Lord Velasco, he was never there.)
“What we wanted sana during that time, he (Velasco) collaborated with the leadership to the best that he can, being the presumptive speaker that he is… Sana nandun na siya, nakikipag-coordinate sa lahat ng members ng leadership ni Speaker para he knows what is being done by Speaker Alan Cayetano and what is his objective,” he added.
(What we wanted during that time is for Velasco to collaborate with the leadership to the best that he can, being the presumptive speaker that he is… We hope he was there and coordinated with the members of the leadership of Speaker Cayetano so he knows what is being done by the Speaker and what his objective is.)
Fernandez questioned how Velasco will run Congress if he does not know where it is heading, saying the lower chamber might get “lost” should there be a change in leadership.
“We wanted the leadership to be transferred to Allan Velasco but during those times that we were with Speaker, alam namin kung ano yung takbo ng utak niya para sa 18th Congress (we knew his plans for the 18th Congress),” Fernandez said.
“Pero now, paano mo ita-transfer ‘yung knowledge na ‘yun that we learned for so many months. Now parang darating na lang siya (Velasco), magpapalit na lang?” he added.
(But now, how do you transfer that knowledge that we learned for so many months. Now, Velasco will just come and change the leadership?)
Velasco has previously countered allegations of being mute on issues and inactive in the House of Representatives during the first 15 months of the 18th Congress.
In a Facebook post, Velasco said he worked “quietly” and “away from publicity” to support the Duterte administration and its legislative agenda, firing back against allegations that he was mum on issues and did not contribute to the lower chamber’s work.
In July 2019, Duterte said Cayetano would serve as House Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress – on until next month, October – while Velasco would succeed to serve for the remaining 21 months under a term-sharing agreement.
But recently, a number of lawmakers – both from the majority and minority – have expressed support towards Cayetano’s continued leadership.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.