House Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco should “face the reality” that membes of the chamber want Pateros-Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as their Speaker despite the incumbent’s offer to resign.

In a statement on Sunday, Villafuerte said that 184 members of the House voting to reject Cayetano’s offer to resign as Speaker “already sent a loud and clear message that this issue is already over as most of our peers want a status quo on the activist House leadership that has nurtured a principled partnership with the Duterte administration.”

Villafuerte also chastised Velasco for his “suddenly incessant rant” about the term sharing agreement between him and Cayetano. Velasco has been insisting he should be the next House Speaker starting this October 14.

The lawmaker from the Bicol region said it is time for Velasco and his supporters to “face reality, move on “ also amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of choosing not to interfere on the issue.

Villafuerte was referring to the Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque saying recently that Duterte cannot “coerce, intimidate, force” members of the House to vote for their leader.

“The agreement was between Speaker Alan and Congressman Lord. Yes, it was brokered by the president. The president, I think, has done his responsibility to remind both candidates for the position to honor their words but in the end, even two weeks ago, the president said, kung walang numero si Congressman Lord Allan, wala akong magagawa (if Congressman Velasco could not get the votes to become House Speaker, I cannot do anything about it),” Roque had said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Villafuerte also denied that the impasse over the House leadership is affecting, based on Velasco’s view, the passage of the proposed P4.56-billion budget for 2021.

“The House leadership under the reinvigorated Speaker Alan Cayetano knows fully well that the timely approval of the 2021 GAA (General Appropriations Act) is crucial to the Duterte administration’s holistic efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and steer the battered economy to a quick and strong recovery, and thus remains fully committed to wrapping up plenary deliberations on next year’s budget plan this month,” the lawmaker said.

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