MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday expressed optimism that the latest issue concerning the leadership at the House of Representatives would not have an adverse impact on President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement amid the supposed brewing coup plot against House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and following the removal of Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as House appropriations committee chairperson.
Panelo was confident that the majority of House lawmakers still support Duterte’s legislative agenda.
“I don’t think it will affect the legislative agenda because all of them support the agenda of the President. Most of them anyway,” he told Palace reporters in a press conference.
The House majority on Monday moved to replace Ungab with ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap.
In an interview with ANC earlier Tuesday, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga claimed Cayetano lost his trust and confidence in Ungab following reports that congressmen are restive over a Budget department’s circular that classifies funds for lawmakers’ projects for later release and subject to certain conditions.
The latest shake-up at the House leadership came amid talks of a possible move to oust Cayetano as House top leader.
Cayetano has accused Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco of being behind the attempt to unseat him as House Speaker. Velasco has denied the allegation.
Despite this, Panelo believed that there is no tiff among House lawmakers.
“I don’t think there is a rift (in the House of Representatives),” he said. “The removal of one congressman from the post was more of an issue of loss of confidence because he made certain alignments that the Speaker didn’t know. ‘Yun lang (That’s the only reason).”
Panelo also clarified that Duterte did not have a “direct hand” in the reorganization at the House of Representatives.
He reiterated that Duterte would not meddle in the internal issues besetting House lawmakers.
“The policy of the President, he said, is not to interfere with the intramurals inside Congress,” Panelo said.
The recent claim of Cayetano came despite his existing term-sharing agreement with Velasco that was brokered by Duterte in July 2019.
The term-sharing deal allows Cayetano to serve until October 2020, and let Velasco take over and assume the speakership until 2022.
Panelo was confident that the issues at the House of Representatives would not affect the strong ties among congressmen who are allies of Duterte like Cayetano, Velasco, and Ungab.
“Even if they have intramurals there, if all of them are allies of the President, there’s no crack. There will be a crack if those fighting each other say they are not for the President,” he said. (PNA)