‘Alan to keep post if Palace stays away in Speaker fight’

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    SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano is likely to remain in position if the Executive will not move to influence congressmen to ditch him and vote for Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, deputy speaker Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II of Mandaluyong City said yesterday.

    “If the House will be left alone to decide the issue of Speakership then, I think, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will remain as the head of the House of Representatives,” said Gonzales, who was the majority leader in the 16th Congress under the Aquino administration.

    While he is hoping that the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco would still push through, President Duterte has said his hands are tied if Velasco does not must the necessary numbers to back his speakership bid.

    Under the arrangement which President Duterte himself brokered in July last year, Cayetano will sit for 15 months and Velasco will be the speaker for the next 21 months beginning next month.

    Gonzales said Cayetano has already shown his caliber of leadership which he said was “honed by years of political experience, having started his political career from councilor, congressman, and senator.”

    “Being a majority leader of the Senate too, provided further mastery of his parliamentary skills, not to mention that his familiarity with the Senators also worked to the advantage of the House, in terms of dealing with our Senate counterparts,” said the lawmaker. “Also, never has the House experienced a closer relationship and coordination with the Cabinet Secretaries, all because Speaker Alan was also a former cabinet secretary.”

    Gonzales said this is the only time in the history of the House that a Speaker had served both as a senator and a Cabinet secretary, which he said has obviously helped a lot in fast-tracking the legislative mill.

    However, more than his experience, Gonzales said Cayetano has demonstrated his willingness “to reach out with sincerity and concern to all members of the House.”

    Gonzales said another important factor that would push lawmakers to allow Cayetano to stay in his post is the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which the world is battling now.

    Under Cayetano, he said the House was able to deliver urgent pieces of legislation through Zoom sessions and all other innovations put in place by the House leadership.

    Cayetano thanked lawmakers for crossing party lines to express their support for his leadership, asking them to translate the show of unity into action by swiftly passing the P4.5 trillion proposed national budget for 2021.

    “I am eternally grateful to every member of Congress for your continued trust and support in the leadership of this House of the People. And now I would ask that we translate this overwhelming show of unity into action by swiftly passing a great budget that we can all be proud of,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.

    In a separate Facebook Live post, Cayetano said the show of support from his colleagues would be “meaningless if we stay in office but don’t deliver the priorities of the administration and the needs of the people.”