House Committee on Energy chairman and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco yesterday expressed hope that the term-sharing agreement between him and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano still stands.
“A gentlemen’s agreement is a gentlemen’s agreement,” Velasco quipped, after he was asked by the media during a chance interview on the sidelines of a House energy panel event.
“What I know is, the agreement is still on,” the youthful lawmaker added.
Velasco’s statement came in reaction to several ranking lawmakers’ earlier claims that it would be difficult to replace Cayetano if he will maintain his high-approval ratings.
National Unity president and House Committee on Natural Resources chairman Elpidio Barzaga (Cavite, 4th District) and Deputy Speaker and 1 PACMAN Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero are among those who believe that Cayetano should remain the top House leader if he could maintain high approval ratings.
Cayetano received a 62 percent trust rating and 64 percent approval rating in the September poll by Pulse Asia after he started his 15-month term as House Speaker on 22 July. It was the first survey that rated Cayetano on his new position.
The former senator and defeated vice-presidential partner of President Rodrigo Duterte offered the 15-21, or what they called the “Magellan” formula to break the deadlock among the speakership hopefuls prior to the start of the 18th Congress.
President Duterte stepped in to make Cayetano agree to serve the first 15 months of the three-year term, with Velasco taking over the last 21 months. The third hopeful, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez agreed to become the majority floor leader for three years.
On 16 July before Duterte announced his “Solomonic decision,” Cayetano claimed he will “sincerely” follow the term-sharing agreement between him and Velasco.
“I just want to say, I am sincere in following the President’s 15-21 formula,” Cayetano said.
However, he changed his tune late last month when he said he would be willing to serve as House Speaker for a full three years if Velasco would agree to it.
The incumbent speaker also said the decision will be up to the President, being the head of the ruling party — Partido Demokratiko Pilipino.
Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista Party, while Velasco is with the NUP.
Velasco said it is too early to talk about the agreement.
“I really didn’t want to comment about it. It’s still so early. It’s only November. The issue will come about next year, in October,” he said.
“Right now, we’re just focused on working. Being the Energy chairman, our focus is on passing laws that I believe would help our countrymen,” he added.
The lawmaker, however, reiterated that he will assume the speakership on schedule.
“Based on the gentlemen’s agreement, I will see you next year as the Speaker of the House,” he told reporters.
In response, Cayetano said he will honor their agreement.
“No agreement will not be honored,” Cayetano said.
The House leader, however, said he could not prevent his colleagues who are happy with his reforms and the early passage of the national budget, with just the institutional components being tackled, from expressing their views on his leadership.
“These were individual congressmen saying that. I also have firm belief on our President’s leadership and the decision he will make in keeping the coalition,” he said.