MANILA – The 48-strong Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives has reaffirmed its commitment to support the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano amid the supposed ouster plot against the top leader of the chamber.
In a statement on Saturday night, Cebu Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco, chair of the House committee on Visayas Development, said the lawmakers from the region would continue to support Cayetano’s stand on various national issues, including broadcast network ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
“We will continue to heed the Speaker’s guidance, as we believe that his fair and uncompromising stand on issues such as the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is the appropriate way of handling such concerns,” Frasco said.
“Visayas bloc remains fully supportive of Speaker Alan, who has demonstrated the kind of leadership, dedication and service to the people that we need to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the House of Representatives,” Frasco added.
Frasco refuted the claim of former Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez that the Visayan bloc wanted Congress to act quickly on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
Frasco said Visayan lawmakers recognize the importance of tackling far more urgent matters, such as finding measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak on the economy.
Despite a brewing coup plan against him, Cayetano said he would continue to stand by his principles and fight alongside his allies at the House of Representatives.
“I believe in what I believe, I will not be transactional. I will not sacrifice my principles and this administration’s priorities… I believe most members of Congress see and appreciate the reforms I stand for. If they do, then I will continue to serve as their Speaker. If they don’t then they can remove me, I will continue to serve as the Representative of Taguig City- Pateros,” Cayetano said in a Facebook post on Saturday night.
“Lastly, I believe in silver linings — so thank you to the Triple A Boys in Congress — ’yung mga puro absent, sipsip sa ABS-CBN, at yung mga nag-aantay ng allotments (those who are always absent, suck-ups to ABS-CBN, and those who await the allotments). You’ve shown me just how desperately we need to reform this institution. You have strengthened my resolve to continue the fight,” Cayetano added.
On Thursday, Cayetano bared that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has already been offering chairmanships and funding allocations for congressmen once the latter takes over the top post in the chamber.
Cayetano’s allegation came, despite the term-sharing deal between him and Velasco that President Rodrigo Duterte had brokered in July last year.
Under the term-sharing arrangement, Cayetano would lead the House for 15 months up to October this year while Velasco would serve the remaining 21 months of the Speaker’s three-year term of office.
Velasco, for his part, dismissed as “baseless” and “sly innuendos being peddled by certain camps with vested interests” the supposed coup plan to change the speakership at the House.
“To my kababayans, these reports are far from the truth. The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte administration,” Velasco said. (PNA)