Palace hands off on speaker term-sharing

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    MALACAÑANG will not meddle in the leadership squabble between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, a Palace official said yesterday.

    Chief Presidential legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said President Duterte will leave it to the two House leaders to resolve the issue.

    Panelo said Malacañang is not involved in the speakership issue even if it was the President who forged the term sharing between Cayetano and Velasco.

    “In the first place, the agreement was among them. Wala namang kinalaman ang Malacañang doon ‘di ba. Nag-propose lang dahil hiningi iyong kaniyang mungkahi. And remember that sinabi ni Presidente, ‘Ang ultimate approval, sa inyo iyan, hindi sa akin.’ (In the first place, the agreement was among them. The President had nothing to do with it. He only proposed it because his opinion was sought. And remember what the President said, ‘the ultimate approval is yours, not mine),” Panelo said.

    Cayetano said while the term-sharing agreement stands, the President, as head of the administration coalition, will still have to confirm if Velasco take over the speakership late next year.

    Cayetano said he will consult Duterte before his term as Speaker expires. Under the term-sharing deal forged by Duterte, Cayetano will sit as speaker for 15 months then Velasco will take over and lead the chamber for 21 months.

    Panelo said it is up to House leaders to decide what they will do should Cayetano fail or refuse to step down because Duterte will not interfere.

    “His style is he does not interfere, unless you ask him, (to make) suggestions,” he added.

    While Cayetano has become indecisive about sharing the House top post with Velasco, the Marinduque solon remains hopeful that he will get to sit at the Speaker’s chair before the end of 2020 and that Cayetano will honor their gentlemen’s agreement even if presidential son deputy speaker Paolo Duterte is against it.

    Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., president of the National Unity Party (NUP), had said earlier that Cayetano might not be replaced anymore because of his high ratings.

    “The high approval and trust ratings received by Speaker Cayetano at this early stage of his term show that the people have noticed that he is really sincere and determined in his mission to transform the House of Representatives into the House of the People,” Barzaga said in a statement.

    Cayetano got a high 64 percent approval rating and a 62 percent trust rating in the latest Ulat sa Bayan survey conducted by Pulse Asia from September 16 to 22 among 1,200 adult respondents nationwide.

    It was the first time the Speaker rated higher than the Vice President in terms of both trust and approval ratings.

    When former president Gloria Arroyo was speaker, her highest public approval rating in Pulse Asia surveys was 29 percent, while her predecessor, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, got a high 42 percent.