House tug-of-war rages: Cayetano boys say it’s over; Velasco camp still eyeing coup

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    Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

    ALLIES of Speaker Alan Cayetano yesterday said his term-sharing agreement with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco no longer stands since President Duterte has chosen to respect the September 30 vote of congressmen rejecting Cayetano’s resignation.

    But Velasco’s camp insists the fight is not yet over because the Speaker is allegedly quickly losing support after 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael Romero, the leader of the Party-list Coalition, was removed as deputy speaker last week for being a Velasco supporter.

    Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza hinted at the possibility of pulling off a coup against the Speaker by welcoming into the fold those who were against Romero’s removal as one of the leaders of the House.

    “Alan (Cayetano) has lost a lot of support (following Romero’s removal as deputy speaker),” Atienza said, noting that Romero wields influence over the 54-man group.

    Atienza said he was also quite sure that the 65-man ruling party, the PDP-Laban, will support Velasco along with members of the National People’s Coalition (NPC) which has 35 members.

    “All he (Velasco) has to do is call the smaller groups,” Atienza said.

    Deputy speakers Dan Fernandez of Laguna and Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said there is no more term-sharing to speak of because Cayetano has already done his part by offering to resign, a move which was rejected on the floor by 184 congressmen.

    Velasco’s camp had been demanding that Cayetano resign as early as September 30 and October 14 at the latest.

    Fernandez said the Marinduque lawmaker and his supporters did not expect that the Speaker would offer to resign on the same day, a move which caught them off-guard since the vote showed the overwhelming support that Cayetano enjoys.

    “Hindi naging handa si Cong. Velasco at ang kaniyang grupo na (Cong. Velasco and his group were not prepared that) this will be the move of Speaker Cayetano. Sino ba tayo para kwestiyonin ang kanyang layunin na ibig sabihin (who are we to question his intentions which means that) it is the prerogative of the Speaker to resign on whatever capacity that he wanted?” Fernandez told a television interview.

    Fernandez said it really does not matter that Cayetano offered his resignation ahead of the October 14 transition date for as long as he followed their agreement that he would leave

    his post after 15 months in office.
    “It would be rude for someone to resign without informing your colleagues and bringing it up on the floor,” he said.

    Villafuerte cited presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s statement last week that the President has decided to distance himself from the speakership issue and respect the vote because “that’s purely an internal affair of the House of Representatives.”

    “If Velasco were leadership material, he would have – rather than avoid last week’s voting like a pipsqueak – took the bull by its horns by taking part in the plenary like a true leader would and explaining to our peers why a shakeup is necessary and where he intends to lead the chamber to for the remainder of the Duterte presidency,” he said.

    He said Velasco and his allies have been “fallaciously invoking palabra de honor in the now resolved term-sharing issue when nothing could be more dishonorable and shameful than Velasco’s pointless quest for the Speakership even if a clear majority of our peers have already spoken via nominal voting that they do not want him as Speaker.”

    “He should shut his trap and return to his peculiarly silent and inconspicuous ways because Wednesday night’s 184-1 vote with 9 abstentions rejecting Cayetano’s surprise resignation was the chamber’s full and unequivocal support for the incumbent Speaker and a repudiation of any Velasco-led makeover that would only usher in a House leadership of default and absenteeism,” Villafuerte said.

    The deputy speaker for finance also dismissed Velasco’s claim that the leadership issue has put the P4.5 trillion proposed national budget for 2021 in peril, saying it will be approved before Congress takes its next break on October 16.

    If Velasco has issues regarding the Speakership, the budget or any other matter that affects the institution, Villafuerte said “he should be the true gentleman to raise the issue on the floor where his peers can hear him and where he can be subjected to interpellation without a script for him to follow.”