House can still meet on Oct. 14 to settle speakership row, pro-Velasco solons say
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives can still meet on October 14 to finally settle the speakership row between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said Wednesday.
Atienza made the remark a day after the lower chamber suspended session until November 16, meaning that the session was suspended before the expected speakership showdown between Cayetano and Velasco on October 14, when House members are expected to vote who will sit at the helm of the lower chamber.
“The power in Congress rests in the majority members. If the majority decides to hold a session on the 14th—with or without Cayetano—we can do that. And I’m going to participate if anybody calls, if Velasco calls, for a session on October 14,” Atienza told reporters in an online interview.
Atienza claimed there has been a growing number of lawmakers agitated with the events that have been unfolding in the House such as the unexpected early second reading approval of the proposed 2021 budget even if deliberations of all government agencies have not finished.
“Granting that Cayetano succeeds in all his scheming and plotting and doing every dirty trick in the book, and he succeeds to avoid October 14 and we meet on November 16, well hopefully, we’re already personally present in the session hall,” Atienza said.
“Whether invited or not, I intend to attend. I don’t know the others, I know there is a growing number of congressmen already agitated with all of these things that are happening. Nahihiya na sila eh, ang daming tao na talagang supportive of the term-sharing agreement [they feel ashamed of themselves, a lot of people are really supportive of the term-sharing agreement] and Cayetano knows that, so he’s afraid at this point to face the truth,” he added.
For Atienza, Cayetano is only “clinging by his fingernails of the cliff,” adding that Speaker could not avoid having the speakership issue not brought up in the plenary floor.
“Bakit niya iniiwasan ang [Why would be leave something that is] inevitable? What is inevitable? Whether we meet on October 14 or November 16, 17, 18, that question will always crop up from the floor. ‘Mr. Speaker, you are already overstaying, we move to declare your position vacant.’ He will not be able to avoid that,” Atienza said.
“The longer he shows this kind of a negative destructive character—he doesn’t care if Congress disintegrates out of public condemnation. He doesn’t care for that, he will insist on saving his own speakership,” he added.
Meanwhile, AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin, a Velasco supporter, echoed Atienza’s statements and said that the majority can call for a session, especially with the pending proposed 2021 budget.
“There are talks going around already and calls were being made pero it just happened yesterday so I think the congressmen are still thinking about it and trying to figure out what happened. Nagulat kasi kahapon [Surprising what happened yesterday],” Garin said.
While these talks are still ongoing, Garin said Velasco’s camp intends to pursue the implementation of the term-sharing agreement.
“We will do it but when it will be done, it still has to be threshed out whether it is on October 14, or after October 14 or November 16 but the intention is still there,” Garin said.
“There was no adjournment, there was a suspension [of session]. Usually suspension is short,” she added.
When this day comes, Valenzuela City 2nd District Rep. Eric Martinez, another ally of Velasco, said that the numbers will do the talking.
“The numbers will do the talking. As Sharon said, just look at the body language with what’s happening now but for us, we have the numbers and it will do the talking on the 14th because that is the word of the President, our party president,” Martinez said.
But Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, an ally of Cayetano, questioned the need for a special session especially since the proposed 2021 budget has already been approved on second reading.
“Special session is only one day. We have more than one month to sit down and work on it. I don’t think one day will do something to change the situation as against the 30 days while on break we will work it out and approve on third reading on November 16,” Villafuerte said.
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