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Cayetano offers resignation as Speaker of the House of Representatives

/ 04:23 PM September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday offered his resignation as Speaker of the lower chamber, one day after news broke out that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over the post starting October 14 in line with the two lawmakers’ term-sharing agreement.

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This came after President Rodrigo Duterte intervened and met with both Cayetano and Velasco on Tuesday night to settle the feud as the speakership issue in the lower chamber heats up.

“I will not be a party to letting the President down so I am offering my resignation here and now to you my dear colleagues. My fate and the fate of the 2021 budget and the fate of the leadership of the House is in your hands,” Cayetano said.

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“Please don’t vote on party lines. Don’t accept or deny because of positions or what the President may say or what I might think. Bumoto kayo sakin or hindi (Vote for me or not), you are my friends, my colleagues,” he added.

This offer, however, was immediately rejected by Cayetano’s colleagues.

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor moved to reject Cayetano’s resign offer, which was seconded by Bulacan 1st Dist. Rep. Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado. Both lawmakers are known allies of Cayetano.

The motion was initially approved through voice voting but Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu later announced that nominal voting would be done.

In the end, 184 lawmakers voted to reject Cayetano’s offer to resign.

Jab at Velasco

But Cayetano did not offer his resignation without taking a jab at Velasco first, saying that the Marinduque congressman has been breaking agreements.

According to Cayetano, Duterte asked Velasco to move the term-sharing agreement to December to make way for the passage of the proposed 2021 national budget.

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But, Cayetano said, Velasco rejected it.

“The President repeatedly asked Congressman Velasco to move the term-sharing agreement to December so that Congress may be able to finish the budget. Ang Pangulo pa ang nakiusap (The President himself made the request),” Cayetano said.

“The President asked this not to give me a few months as a Speaker but because it was for good of the country, hindi para kay Alan ito dahil sa budget ‘to (not for the sake of Alan but for the sake of the budget) but this appeal to Congressman Velasco was rejected many, many times despite the reasonings given,” he added.

Cayetano likewise accused Velasco of turning the House into a “rubber stamp” of the executive when the Marinduque lawmaker supposedly told Duterte that he would approve the proposed 2021 national budget as is.

“Sabi niya (Velasco), Mr. President, kung kaya ni Cayetano ang budget, kaya ko rin ‘yan. But don’t worry kung ano ang nasa NEP (National Expenditure Program), ‘yan ang ipapasa ko. Never in the history of the Philippines napasa ‘yung NEP kasi may Senado tayo,” Cayetano said.

(Velasco said, ‘Mr. President, if Cayetano can handle the budget, I can do it too. But don’t worry, whatever is in the NEP, that will be passed. Never in the history of the Philippines that NEP was passed because we also have the Senate.)

Ousted immediately?

Cayetano likewise asserted that Velasco will still need the votes of the majority to be elected as the Speaker of the House.

The Taguig-Pateros lawmaker believes that Velasco will not be elected—even saying that the latter might be ousted a week into his leadership.

“Under the Constitution, you need the majority of all members to be elected Speaker. So, I can step aside. But I cannot guarantee, he (Velasco) will be elected,” Cayetano said.

“In fact, I will make a fearless forecast: Hindi siya mananalo. Or if I step aside, mananalo siya after one week makukudeta siya. Bakit? Maraming popular sa Kongreso,” he added.

(In fact, I will make a fearless forecast: He will not win. Or if I step aside, he will win but after one week he will be ousted. Why? There are a lot of popular personalities in Congress.)

Cayetano then pointed out Velasco’s performance in the 18th Congress, specifically the latter’s absence during the House session held in Batangas following the Taal eruption, his inactivity in the passage of the Bayanihan 1 and 2 measures, among others, and his silence on the ABS-CBN franchise issue.

This kind of performance, Cayetano said, led many lawmakers to question Velasco.

On Tuesday night, news broke out that Velasco would take the helm of the House starting October 14, true to the term-sharing agreement.

However, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Cayetano’s ally, said that the October 14 date for the change of leadership in the House was never mentioned during the meeting.

“No that was not clear because we were all there, including Cong. [Doy] Leachon, Cong. Velasco. The president expressed his desire to honor the term-sharing,” Villafuerte said, adding that Cayetano vowed to honor the agreement although he also admitted he cannot speak on behalf of Cayetano’s supporters.

Under the agreement, Cayetano would serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress while Velasco would succeed to serve for the remaining 21 months under a term-sharing agreement. The deal entails Cayetano to relinquish the speakership to Velasco this October.

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