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Speakership row a battle for ‘control of resources,’ Zarate says

/ 10:40 PM October 01, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The speakership row in the House of Representatives has to do with gaining control over resources, including the national budget, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Thursday.

Zarate said that while President Rodrigo Duterte has already stepped in to settle the term-sharing agreement between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, it would not stop the “war of dominance” of the different factions and blocs within the majority coalition in the lower chamber.

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“In fact magtutuloy-tuloy ‘yun dahil ang tinatawag nating war of dominance of these difference factions and blocs are also aimed at their own conflicting interest especially leading towards the 2022 elections,” Zarate said in an online press briefing.

“More than the battle of personalities, more than the battle of whether to comply with a term-sharing agreement, ang nakikita rin po natin dito ay banggaan ito sa control ng resources, ‘di lang dito sa House of Representatives kundi ang buong budget na nakasalalay ngayon at pinagdedebatehan dito sa Kongreso,” he added.

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Zarate explained that the sitting House Speaker has control over the budget especially with the looming 2022 elections.

“Dahil nga kailangang makontrol ito, kung sino ang naka-upong Speaker ay makokontrol ito, lalong-lalo na pagdating sa 2022 elections,” Zarate said.

“Ito yung pang-preview of what is about to come, how the political landscape in the next months and years leading towards 2022 will be shaped by this ongoing and never-ending war of dominance by these different factions and blocs, the infighting within the ruling Duterte coalition,” the lawmaker added.

The recent issues, however, has showed how “misprioritized” the public interest is as reflected on the proposed budget for 2021, said Zarate.

On Wednesday, Cayetano delivered a speech and offered to resign as the term-sharing agreement issue 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.

“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.

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

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor moved to deny Cayetano’s offer to resign and was seconded by Bulacan 1st District 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 a nominal voting would be done.

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

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