The paranoia of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies of a supposed looming coup in the House of Representatives is baseless, according to Marinduque Governor Presbiterio Velasco Jr.
The former Supreme Court Associate Justice is the father of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who, in turn, is being left in the lurch in the 15-21 Speakership deal through a gentlemen’s agreement of the two House leaders which President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed.
Governor Velasco asserted during a media interview that his son honors the term-sharing agreement and was in full support of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“The gentlemen’s agreement stated that Speaker Cayetano will leave the speakership post this October. He (Rep. Velasco) did nothing against the Speaker,” Velasco said.
“There’s already an agreement. Why do we still have to mess up the situation?” he added.
The governor stressed Velasco chose to stay silent amid the alleged coup threats which Cayetano accused him for as to allow the House leader to self-govern.
Despite getting hit by wave of accusations, Velasco remained unfazed and expressed that he will not back out of the “15-21 deal.”
Manifesto being routed
Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice revealed that a manifesto has been making the rounds at the House of Representatives calling for Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to remain head of the chamber amid his term-sharing deal with Velasco.
In a radio interview, Erice confirmed that the manifesto is already in the House and he has already signed the document.
But the Caloocan lawmaker denied that Cayetano supporters were promised big cuts from the 2021 budget for projects, pointing out that his district even received one of the smallest allocations amounting to more or less P400 million. “I did not ask for any favors when I signed,” Erice said.
The solon also could not say how many lawmakers already signed the manifesto but pointed out that Cayetano has support from both the minority and the majority.
Erice also explained a leadership change in the chamber would not be prudent while the country is dealing with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which is supposedly their reason to push for Cayetano to remain as Speaker despite the term-sharing deal.
“We have seen the leadership skills of Speaker Cayetano,” said Erice. “So the stature of the House will be okay if Cayetano will remain as Speaker.”
Meantime, Erice described that while Velasco acted as a “good brother” to his colleagues, what the House needs now is the “wisdom of a good father” so the deal should “make way” for Cayetano’s continued leadership.
Erice then called on Velasco to “sacrifice his personal ambition” for the betterment of all.
Deal is clear
Under the deal, Cayetano would serve as Speaker for the first 15 months, Velasco would take his place for the next 21 months until the 2022 national elections. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, meanwhile, will be Majority Leader for the entire 18th Congress.
The resolution appealed to Velasco to junk the deal and let Cayetano extend his term until 2022. Allies of Cayetano have been using the plenary sessions as platform to express their continued support to the Speaker.
Buhay Partylist Representative Lito Atienza, nonetheless, asked Cayetano to honor the agreement “with no conditions” to demonstrate his palabra de honor (word of honor) and delicadeza (propriety).
The former Manila mayor also reminded Cayetano that he only assumed the leadership post “on the basis of the term-sharing agreement.”
“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,” Atienza 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,” he added.
In March, when Cayetano initially accused Velasco’s group of a plan to remove him, Atienza dared Cayetano to name the congressmen who he claimed confessed about the coup.
Cayetano’s account was that Velasco offered House members committee chairmanships in exchange for their support for a move to oust him. Velasco, however, denied the claim.
with Elmer N. Manuel