Romualdez: Duterte wants Cayetano to remain speaker
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said that during a recent meeting in Malacañang, the President expressed satisfaction over the way Cayetano has been running the chamber and delivering his legislative agenda.
STAR/Boy Santos, file
Romualdez: Duterte wants Cayetano to remain speaker
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez claimed yesterday that President Duterte wants Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to continue with his leadership in the House of Representatives.

Romualdez said that during a recent meeting in Malacañang, the President expressed satisfaction over the way Cayetano has been running the chamber and delivering his legislative agenda.

He said Duterte is happy with the legislative output of the chamber under Cayetano’s watch.

“The President was visibly pleased and had a brief huddle with the Speaker before leaving, nodding with approval and clearly wanting the Speaker to carry on with the priority legislative agenda of the Palace,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Romualdez had joined the so-called “supermajority” in the House that has reaffirmed support for Cayetano following a plot to oust the Speaker, which was attributed to the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Velasco is supposed to assume the speakership post in November as part of the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco that Duterte brokered.

Major political and regional blocs allegedly want to set aside the agreement as their leaders expressed support for Cayetano earlier this week.

Insiders said it was at this meeting where the President uttered “kawawa naman si Lord (poor Lord),” which was taken to signify that the term-sharing deal he earlier brokered would no longer push through.

Romualdez, who was also a candidate for Speaker when the 18th Congress convened, confirmed that the majority of congressmen support Cayetano.

“I stand with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. We are the House of Representatives, this is the people’s House. What he [Cayetano] is saying — the people’s lives and their livelihood — these are our priorities so that’s what we are doing. Thank you for the support. Rest assured that your Congress is for the people,” he stressed in a Facebook Live video with Cayetano.

Duterte’s satisfaction with Cayetano’s leadership in the House was confirmed by presidential spokesman Harry Roque last Friday.

“The truth is, and I speak for the President, he has no frustrations with Speaker Cayetano. In fact, he said, I am really close to Alan,” Roque was quoted in an interview with the online news outlet Mindavote.

He said the President is happy with how the House, under Cayetano, was able to pass the 2020 national budget on time and swiftly approve measures needed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2.

Roque also cited the swift passage of the President’s priority legislative measures, including revenue-generating and tax reform bills.

“If you are a President who saw the economy slow down because government was forced to work under a reenacted budget because the House was not able to pass the national budget under a previous Speaker, you will certainly appreciate one who is able to deliver what your administration needs,” he explained in the same interview.

Asked about Velasco and the term-sharing agreement on the speakership post, Roque admitted that there might be an issue on his track record and experience, especially since the speakership requires one to build consensus among the members of Congress.

“If you don’t have that experience, how can you build consensus? He will have a hard time,” he pointed out.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Duterte himself at the outset of the 18th Congress, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months or until October 2020, with Velasco taking over the post for the final 21 months of the 18th Congress or until June 2022.

MARTIN ROMUALDEZ PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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