Velasco should ‘face reality’ that House members want Cayetano as Speaker — Villafuerte
MANILA, Philippines — Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Velasco should “face the reality” that House members want Alan Peter Cayetano as their Speaker despite his offer to resign, House Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said on Sunday.
In a statement, Villafuerte said that Wednesday’s nominal voting to reject Cayetano’s offer to resign from his post “already sent a loud and clear message that this issue is already over as most of our peers want a status quo on the activist House leadership that has nurtured a principled partnership with the Duterte administration.”
A total of 184 lawmakers voted to reject Cayetano’s resignation to make way for Velasco to take the speakership.
The lawmaker also slammed Velasco for his “suddenly incessant rant” about the term sharing agreement between him and Cayetano.
Under the term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano would sit as House Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco would succeed him in the remaining 21 months.
In a meeting between Duterte, Velasco, and Cayetano in Malacañang, it was decided that Velasco will take the speakership on Oct. 14.
Villafuerte, meanwhile, said that it was time for Velasco and his allies to “face reality, move on “and work with the House leadership under [Cayetano] as this issue has already been resolved, more so after President Duterte himself has chosen to respect the House’s Sept. 29 vote for Cayetano and told Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque he was adopting a hand-offs policy on what he termed as the chamber’s internal matter.”
The lawmaker was referring to Roque’s pronouncement that the President decided to “stay out” of the speakership row at the House of Representatives.
The House Deputy Speaker also shot down Velasco’s claim that the speakership row has put the passing of the 2021 proposed national budget at risk.
In a video message on Friday, the Marinduque representative said that Cayetano was “blackmailing” Duterte on the budget.
“The House leadership under the reinvigorated Speaker Alan Cayetano knows fully well that the timely approval of the 2021 GAA [General Appropriations Act] is crucial to the Duterte administration’s holistic efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and steer the battered economy to a quick and strong recovery, and thus remains fully committed to wrapping up plenary deliberations on next year’s budget plan this month,” Villafuerte said.
“If Rep. Velasco has issues regarding the Speakership, the budget or any other matter that affects the institution, he should be the true gentleman to raise the issue on the floor where his peers can hear him and where he can be subjected to interpellation without a script for him to follow,” he added.
Aside from this, Villafuerte further slammed Velasco, saying that he was the one who “dishonored” Duterte during their meeting in Malacañang when the Chief Executive asked to move the term-sharing to December.
Villafuerte added that Velasco and his allies also refused to take part in the nominal voting. This, Villafuerte said, is “reflective of Velasco’s style of leadership—or utter lack of it—and a harbinger of the policy of drift and irrelevance that will most likely plague the House if he ends up Speaker.”
“If Velasco were leadership material, he would have—rather than avoid last week’s voting like a pipsqueak—took the bull by its horns by taking part in the plenary like a true leader would and explaining to our peers why a shakeup is necessary and where he intends to lead the chamber to for the remainder of the Duterte presidency,” he added.
“Instead, there was this big cop-out on his part. And so did his supposed allies who, following their presumptive leader’s directive to them, similarly dodged the issue by refusing to participate in the plenary session—instead of voting to back Speaker Cayetano’s resignation in support of their hoped-for leadership change in favor of Velasco.”
And with Cayetano’s offer to resign last Oct. 1, Villafuerte said that the incumbent Speaker has “already done his part of the term-sharing arrangement.”