A senior party-list representative on Wednesday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to break yet another deadlock in the term-sharing agreement for the House leadership which Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano no longer wants to honor.
Yesterday’s session became a parade of Cayetano’s leaders expressing their continued support to the Speaker, a show of force that started since Monday when Cayetano claimed a coup should have transpired.
Cayetano accused his rival Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as having orchestrated the coup de etat — the fourth in his count, an accusation belied no less by his own peers at the House.
Buhay Partylist Representative Lito Atienza strongly reminded Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to honor the term-sharing agreement between him and Velasco, instead.
“With no conditions,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Secretary Harry Roque on Tuesday also said the Chief Executive had made known his desire for Cayetano and Velasco to honor their agreement.
Cayetano, however, does not have any intention to do so, or so some congressmen said.
“Speaker Cayetano assumed the Speakership on the basis of the term-sharing agreement between him and Cong. Velasco. They agreed upon that arrangement as suggested by Cayetano himself.
They agreed to this in front of no less than President Duterte himself,” Atienza reiterated.
The former Manila mayor questioned Cayetano’s sudden about-face, with some other congressmen claiming it was unexpected of the Speaker who also did not have much support when he sought President Duterte’s help to broker between him and Velasco. The third speakership hopeful then was Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Romualdez settled for the House Majority Leader’s post which he will hold for three years.
“Cayetano did not carry the majority numbers at that time, and Cong. Velasco did not ask for that to be a condition before he agreed to the agreement,” he said.
“Now that his term is about to end and Cong. Velasco is about to begin his, why is the Speaker’s supporters questioning if Cong. Velasco has the numbers? It is totally unfair to make it a condition now,” Atienza added.
Velasco was said to have the numbers when he gave way to Cayetano in respect to the President’s decision.
Atienza pointed out that the President’s intervention is needed now.
“Mr. President, please do not allow the breaking of this gentleman’s agreement to share terms. Otherwise, Congress is doomed to fail if palabra de honor (word of honor) and delicadeza (propriety) are not followed,” Atienza added.
The Chief Executive defused the three-way speakership war last year and allowed Cayetano, his former Foreign Affairs secretary, to sit as house Speaker for 15 months. He is to end his part of the deal on the last day of October.
Velasco will then take his turn to serve as House Speaker for 21 months until the 2022 elections.
Cayetano’s closest allies have confirmed the Taguig City congressman is seriously entertaining thoughts of running for the presidency in 2022. He lost his vice-presidential bid in 2016.
Aside from various statements from his leaders since Monday, Cayetano’s supporters manifested their support to him on the floor on Wednesday.
One of them, Caloocan Rep. Egay Erice even asked Velasco to give up his “aspiration” to serve as speaker.
“It can wait. He is young, brilliant and only in his second term,” Erice said.
Several other known Cayetano allies followed suit with the same call.
Velasco had kept his silence for long despite several taunts which came from Cayetano, himself.
It was not the first time that Cayetano had accused Velasco of trying to stage a coup.
But in March this year, it was discovered that Cayetano had planned a “self-coup” by raising a supposed call by his peers to declare all House seats vacant in what appeared as his first attempt to undermine their agreement made before the President.
It did not fly, though.
Several lawmakers last week questioned Cayetano’s large share from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) budget for 2021, some of which have been red-flagged by the Senate.
Cayetano’s Taguig City, with only two congressional districts but with the other occupied by his wife Lani, has 121 projects listed. It will receive nearly P10 billion from the DPWH fund.
His other allies will also receive more than the others.
Many congressmen were allocated with only P2 billion for their projects or even less.
After the discovery of Cayetano’s reserved DPWH funds, he again raised the accusation against Velasco. His supporters then issued statements of support to him one after another.
Velasco, however, remained cool despite these.
In a statement, Velasco said:
“I have been silent during the duration of the Gentleman’s agreement in deference and respect to the sitting Speaker.”
“My silence does not mean I’m disinterested nor I have turned my back on the covenant.”
“’Being mum on issues’ means I just don’t want to call attention to myself. Being a party to the term-sharing agreement, one does not and should not seek to compete with the current Speaker as a gentleman’s agreement is in force. We will have our turn at the right time.”
“When both parties finally honor the agreement, I will show my colleagues the kind of leadership I espouse. Thereafter, at the end of my term, my peers can then be the judge of my loyal service to God, to the President, and ultimately to the Filipino people.”
with Michelle Guillang