‘House coup plotters unmasked soon’

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    DEPUTY Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte yesterday said those plotting to unseat Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will soon be publicly identified.

    He made the statement as he brushed off the allegation of Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Leachon that the House leadership is fabricating a coup attempt against Cayetano in a bid to do away with his term-sharing agreement with Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco.

    Leachon, an ally of Velasco who was kicked out as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal last Monday, was echoing the statement last week of Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza Jr., who said the Cayetano camp has been planning to declare all positions vacant to pave the way for a new election to solidify Cayetano’s hold on power and do away with the term-sharing agreement.

    Leachon, in a TV interview, said he just realized “this is just actually a prelude for disengagement or ‘yung pag-dishonor ng term-sharing agreement.”

    Based on the term-sharing agreement that President Duterte had brokered, Cayetano will be Speaker for 15 months while Velasco will sit as speaker for 21 months, beginning November.

    Villafuerte said lawmakers were being offered chairmanship posts and additional allocations for their districts to support Velasco.

    “In due time, we will name them. Members of Congress know who the coup plotters are,” Villafuerte told ANC.

    Villafuerte said the House leadership “would rather focus on work because at the end of the day, the image of the House is at stake.”

    Cayetano on Tuesday reiterated that he would give way to Velasco once the President tells him to relinquish the post by November.

    Cayetano has claimed that the coup was hatched because of the House leadership’s investigation into the P95-billion in debts that power generators owe government. He said Velasco’s camp was merely using the delay in House action on bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. as an issue to oust him.

    FREE-FOR-ALL

    ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, a close ally of deputy speaker and presidential son Paolo Duterte, said their group is still backing Paolo’s stand against the term-sharing agreement.

    Yap, who now chairs the appropriations panel, said their group, said the choice for a new speaker should not be limited between Cayetano and Velasco.

    “We don’t want a term-sharing. I mean, it’s not just about Speaker Cayetano and Congressan Lord so we’ll just vote for whoever we want,” he told ANC.

    The presidential son was rumored to be eyeing the speaker’s post last year until he and his sister Davao City Mayor Sara decided to field Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab who was removed also Monday as chair of the powerful committee on appropriations.

    Yap, a neophyte, would not identify Paolo’s candidate.

    “He (Paolo) said from the start he is against term-sharing but he has not identified his candidate yet,” he said.

    In a press conference, Cayetano said one of those being offered a chairmanship post by Velasco’s camp was Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.

    He said Tolentino was offered the same position of the powerful House committee on accounts, the same position which Velasco was eyeing to give to Leachon.

    “I think he (Velasco) was planning to put Cong. Doy Leachon in the committee on accounts but recently, he was offering Cong. Bambol to stay in the same position,” he told reporters.

    Cayetano said Velasco is offering posts to congressmen when one of their agreements was that only the two of them will change positions.

    “We had a give-and-take agreement and that for all 36 months (beginning the opening of session in July last year), no one will be changed except the two of us so it’s unfair to replace other midstream,” Cayetano said.

    Cayetano said he would keep silent if Velasco will assure him that he will not replace the committee chairmen once he becomes speaker.

    “My challenge is for him to make a categorical statement that when he becomes speaker, he will not remove officers, leaders and chairpersons,” Cayetano said. “Once he says that, we’ll shut up.”