Mikee Romero is replaced by Fredenil Castro as deputy speaker.

October 3, 2020 – Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco vows to invoke the term-sharing agreement and declare the speakership vacant if Alan Peter Cayetano does not step down on October 14,

The pact appears to have been broken after Cayetano offered to resign the post but not before casting doubt on Velasco’s ability to face up to the challenges of the speakership.

The House voted to reject Cayetano’s resignation with a majority of 184 votes.

Meanwhile, Michael “Mikee” Romero is the first casualty in the power struggle between his ally, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. 

Cayetano removed Romero, 1-Pacman representative, as deputy speaker during yesterday’s plenary session and replaced him by Capiz 2nd District Representative Fredenil Castro, who only two hours prior challenged the Velasco bloc to resign from their House posts if they refuse to cooperate with Cayetano. 

It was Deputy Majority Leader Xavier Jesus Romualdo who moved to replace Romero with Castro. No lawmaker objected the motion, so presiding Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu immediately accepted it. Abu is a party mate of Cayetano in the Nacionalista Party.

Members of the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc (PCFI), which supports Velasco, were surprised by Romero’s removal.

Romero is president of the party list bloc in the House. With at least 52 members, the PCFI is entitled to one deputy speaker post since it compromises 20% of the total membership of the chamber.

AAMIS-OWA Representative Sharon Garin said removing Romero as House Deputy Speaker is “an affront to our coalition and an insult to everything we have worked for as a bloc.”

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Representative Jericho Nograles shared the same sentiments.

Romero and Garin were part of Velasco’s entourage when legislators met with President Rodrigo Duterte earlier in the week, to finally resolve the term-sharing question in the chamber. 

Under the deal, Cayetano is to serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, then Velasco is to take over in the 21 months after that. 

House members’ grumblings over the inequitable distribution of infrastructure funds in the 2021 budget triggered a power struggle in the chamber and compounded legislators’ uncertainty over the implementation of the term-sharing deal. 

While Duterte’s meeting with the Cayetano and Velasco camps was meant to settle the speakership row once and for all, both parties gave conflicting statement as to when exactly Velasco will sit as Speaker. 

Garin said, “Kung gusto ng many of the congressmen (If that’s what many congressmen want), if the majority wants to go against the advice of the President, then so be it, di ba (right)? That’s how we decide; it’s a collegial body. But that will be decided by the majority.”

Responding to issues raised against the ability of Velasco to lead the House, Garin said any lawmaker is capable of doing so, “Nobody has the monopoly of being the best congressman, each one has his or her abilities.”

In a privilege speech Friday, new Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro of Capiz, challenged Velasco and his allies to give up their posts if they cannot cooperate with Cayetano. “Resign your leadership positions and let those who are willing to help and cooperate takeover. There is no shame in admitting defeat at the hands of the better foe,” Castro said.

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