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Alan OKs NP backing of Lord

Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has signed a Nacionalista Party (NP) manifesto expressing support for newly installed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco making it unlikely that Cayetano would join the minority in the House of Representatives, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Barbers said on Thursday.

“There is no truth to the rumor that we will become minority,” Barbers said during a virtual press conference, adding that all 44 NP members in the House, including Cayetano and his wife, Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, have signed the manifesto.

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“I don’t think there’s a possibility that Speaker Alan will become a member of the minority,” Barbers told reporters. “It is very clear in our manifesto that as a block, as a group headed by former Speaker Alan, we are supporting Speaker Lord Velasco.”

In a separate statement, another Cayetano party mate and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar, daughter of Sen. Cynthia Villar and sister of Public Works Sec. Mark Villar, said the NP would “work closely” with Velasco to pass President Duterte’s legislative agenda, particularly the 2021 spending law.

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“The Nacionalista Party, along with my esteemed House colleagues in the party, also commits to the speedy passage of the 2021 national budget that would be truly reflective of the needs of the people and not merely based on the requirements of the districts,” Villar said.

Barbers said that while the NP wanted no changes in key positions at the House, the party recognizes that it remains the prerogative of Velasco to ensconce allies who supported his speakership bid.

The congressman made the remarks amid speculation that Cayetano would move to the minority because of the rancorous contest for the speakership. On Wednesday, one of Cayetano’s staunches allies, Camarines Sur Second District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., was removed as deputy speaker, a move that, Villafuerte claimed, betrayed vindictiveness.

“Their vindictiveness merely shows that we were right all along, and exposes the kind of ‘leadership’ we can expect,” he said.

“Despite what has happened, I will continue to support the legislative agenda of the President in whatever capacity I can. But if the new leadership chooses divisiveness over unity, to move back, instead of forward, and to reject our offers of cooperation, that is no longer on me,” he added.

The minority, on the other hand, welcomed Cayetano’s supposed move to the ranks of the 25 man bloc that would potentially balloon to 69 votes.

“We welcome him,” said Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante. “If he is willing to get the minority leader position, I would be very glad to give that to him.” Abante said in an interview with reporters.

But Abante doubted that Cayetano would even want to join the minority.

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TAGS: Cayetano, House Speaker, Nacionalista Party, NP, Velasco
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