Velasco accuses Cayetano of ‘blackmailing’ Duterte on 2021 budget
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) — Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Friday accused House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of trying to blackmail President Rodrigo Duterte into holding the proposed 2021 budget hostage if Cayetano’s term as House leader is not extended.
Velasco noted that Cayetano does not want to step down yet from the speakership post due to a “budget.”
“Ang mga tanong po kay Speaker Cayetano at sa kanyang barkada, budget ba ito para sa bayan, or budget ng mga barkada mo? Makabuluhang budget ba ito sa gitna ng pandemya o malaking budget ba ito para sa grupo mo?” Velasco said in a video uploaded on his Facebook page.
(My question to Speaker Cayetano and his group, is this budget for the country or for your friend group? Is this a sensible budget in the midst of a pandemic or a huge budget for your group?)
“Is this why Speaker Cayetano and his sidekicks are adamant in fiercely fighting the peaceful transition of House leadership? Is this why Speaker Cayetano is trying to blackmail President Duterte and hold the budget hostage if his term is not extended?” he added.
The lawmaker said he agrees that there should be no disruption to the passage of the proposed national budget for 2021, but for Cayetano to wish to extend his term until December on the pretext of budget deliberations “raises suspicions.”
He pointed out that he kept silent as a “true gentleman and statesman” and out of respect to Duterte even as supposed attacks to malign him have escalated over the previous month.
But now, he said “it is time to tell the truth” and to “correct all the coordinated lies and misinformation which are all meant to undermine the term-sharing agreement.”
Velasco likewise appealed to Cayetano to resign as House Speaker on October 14 and even apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte and Filipinos for the speakership dispute.
In 2019, Duterte brokered a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco for the top post at the House of Representatives, wherein Cayetano would serve as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, and Velasco would assume the post for the remaining 21 months.
On Tuesday, news broke out that Velasco is set to take over as Speaker on October 14, following a meeting between him, Cayetano, and their supporters with Duterte to settle the speakership row.
INQUIRER.net sought comment from Cayetano through text message on Velasco’s accusation but he has yet to reply as of posting time.