MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte is still hopeful that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would honor his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte wanted his two allies to take turns in holding the highest position at the House of Representatives.
However, Roque said even if Duterte wanted the term-sharing agreement to be honored, he could not do anything if the “supermajority” of the lawmakers wants Cayetano to stay as House Speaker.
“He’s hoping na tutupad sa usapan ang partido pero kung wala pong number si Congressman Lord Allan eh wala po siyang magagawa (He’s hoping they would honor their term-sharing deal but if Congressman Lord Allan doesn’t have the numbers, he can’t do anything),” Roque said.
Roque said the fate of the next House Speaker will depend on the decision of the individual members of the House of Representatives.
“Ang sabi po niya, to quote talaga is: ‘Kung walang numero si Lord Allan, wala siyang magagawa (What he said, to quote is: ‘If Lord Allan doesn’t have the numbers, he can’t do anything)’,” he reiterated.
In an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday, Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the supermajority of congressmen wants Cayetano to continue instead of letting Velasco take over.
Villafuerte believes that Velasco will not be able to put up a good fight against Cayetano since he was “never really active in Congress.”
“I haven’t seen or heard Congressman Lord be active in any major issue. We don’t see him in Congress. It was really his choice not to be the presumptive speaker. The congressmen now are saying we’d rather let Speaker Alan to continue because he’s active, he performs, he’s qualified, these are the general sentiments of congressmen,” Villafuerte said.
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Earlier, Roque said Duterte wants the PHP4.5-trillion proposed budget for 2021 passed before the end of the year amid squabbles among members of the House of Representatives over budget allocations for infrastructure.
“Let’s just say, because the 2021 budget is also our biggest stimulus package, not negotiable po kay Presidente, kinakailangan maipasa po iyang budget on time (it’s not negotiable for the President, the budget has to be passed on time),” he said. (PNA)