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Duterte urges Cayetano, Velasco to honor term-sharing deal but…

MJ Blancaflor



President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would abide by the term-sharing agreement they had, but said the latter “cannot do anything” if he is not backed by the Congress supermajority.

At a Palace briefing Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque shared to reporters what President Duterte had said when asked about his thoughts on the brewing power struggle among Congress leaders.

“Tinanong ko po siya rito kagabi at dahil sinagot niya ako, uulitin ko ang sagot niya. Umaasa siya na tutupad sa usapan ang dalawang partido. Pero kung wala pong numbers si Congressman Lord Allan, eh, wala po siyang magagawa,” Roque said.

“So, the President is hoping that the Speaker and Congressman Velasco will honor their agreement, but ultimately the decision will be the decision of individual congressmen. Ang sabi po niya, to quote, ‘Kung talagang walang numero si Lord Allan, wala siyang magagawa,’” he added.

In 2019, President Duterte brokered a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco to put an end to the speakership race which bugged the House for months.

Duterte publicly endorsed Cayetano to be the House Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco would replace him for the remaining 21 months.

Asked if the President’s remarks on Monday night is an endorsement for Cayetano to stay in his post as House Speaker, Roque said: “That’s what he said. If Lord Allan has no numbers, I cannot do anything. And that is the Constitution: members of the Congress shall elect their leader.”

Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, a known ally of Cayetano, claimed that the “supermajority” of congressmen does not want the sitting House Speaker to step down from his post.

“You saw the performance of Congress, we work even though we’re under a break, the ratings increased — highest rating ever for the House of Representatives. Everybody is happy. If ever there is anyone complaining, just one or two people which the Speaker will resolve,” Villafuerte said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

“I haven’t seen or heard Congressman Lord active in any major issue. We don’t see him in Congress. It was really his choice not to be the presumptive speaker. The congressmen now are saying we’d rather let Speaker Alan continue because he’s active, he performs, he’s qualified. These are the general sentiments of congressmen,” he added.