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Alvarez urges House to let Cayetano finish 3-year term as Speaker

Michelle R. Guillang

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Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday urged members of the House of Representatives to let Alan Peter Cayetano lead the lower chamber until 2022.

Alvarez made the call as he reiterated his position against the term-sharing deal, describing it as “divisive” and defies the unity the lower chamber is supposed to uphold.

“From the start when there was still no newly elected speaker, I clearly stated that I opposed the term-sharing deal because this is not about the speakership, this is about the country. It’s not about making a person the speaker,” said Alvarez in an interview on Wednesday.

In 2019, through the intercession of President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano has struck a term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.  In the deal, Cayetano would lead the House during the first half of the 18th Congress or until Octobe 2020, and the remaining 21 months would go to Velasco.

“The term-sharing is divisive and that’s what we are trying to abstain from. The speaker is prevented from laying out plans for the next three years, this is why there’s an ongoing conflict at the House. What we need is a united House of Representatives, so whatever the administration needs, the Congress can support it and be planned out by the Speaker. We shouldn’t be always replacing [the Speaker],” Alvarez said.

Stressing that he was not taking sides, the former House leader said Cayetano should be allowed to stay as Speaker to sustain the programs the House has been implementing.

“I’m not choosing a side in the two of them. In fact, Cong. Velasco is my partymate in the PDP–Laban. But I really have to be consistent on my stand that whoever is the incumbent, let him finish the term.

“Since we have reached the last quarter of 2020 and the filing of the certificate of candidacy begins next year, it will be difficult for a new Speaker to implement new programs in the Congress,” he pointed out.

Velasco in a Facebook post on Tuesday night has expressed his interest in becoming the next House speaker.

To respond to accusations that he was an inactive member of the Congress, he said he was just “working quietly and away from publicity.”

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