202 House members support Cayetano
Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte touches Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s shoulder as he gives his ally ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap pretend horns in a photo Yap posted on Instagram on Saturday night. With them are (from left) House deputy secretary general Brian Yamsuan and Cayetano’s wife Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano.
STAR/File
202 House members support Cayetano
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A “supermajority” of 202 members of the nearly 300-member House of Representatives manifested support for the uninterrupted term of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano until the end of the 18th Congress in June 2022.

In a joint manifesto, the administration congressmen stated: “We reiterate our full and unequivocal support for Speaker Cayetano and the entire leadership of the House and join the President in his desire to allow the membership to chart its own course in choosing those who would lead his chamber.”

In effect, those who signed the manifesto have chosen to set aside Cayetano’s term-sharing agreement with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who is supposed to take over the speakership by end-October.

Coming from the allied political parties of President Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban party, the group described as the “Supermajority Coalition” thanked Cayetano for his service and pledged continued support for his vision for the House.

Under his speakership, they vowed to conduct “open and transparent budget hearings” especially amid the unprecedented public health and economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Members of the 18th Congress are now called upon to act – bearing in mind the welfare of their constituents and of the country as a whole – and put aside partisan bickering in favor of the larger People’s agenda that calls for a fair, balanced, and equitable budget that will help the country recover swiftly from the effects of COVID-19,” the coalition said.

President Duterte, who left for Manila last night after staying in Davao City for over a week, reportedly wants Cayetano to stay as Speaker until December or until the proposed P4.506-trillion 2021 national budget is approved.

Duterte reportedly wants his administration’s last full-year budget, which also addresses measures to combat the coronavirus disease pandemic, to be passed on time and without hitches.

Earlier, congressmen warned that enforcing the term-sharing agreement and changing Speakers in the middle of budget deliberations would be problematic and contrary to the President’s wishes for a smooth approval of the budget.

Last Saturday, it was learned that Cayetano has been wooing Davao City first district Rep. Paolo Duterte to support his bid to retain his leadership of the House.

But contrary to online photos suggesting Cayetano and the President’s son met in Davao City last Saturday, their meeting actually took place in Metro Manila, sources told The STAR.

Some sources also claimed that Cayetano already won the nod of Rep. Duterte, whose family is known to be close to Velasco.

Just a weekend ago, congressman Duterte threatened to face the House plenary on Sept. 21 with a move to declare the seat of the speaker and his deputies vacant in an apparent coup.

The younger Duterte had complained of inequitable shares for infrastructure development in their districts in the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021.

However, the coup did not materialize and allies of Cayetano in the legislative chamber have since been calling for the nixing of the term-sharing agreement, which is scheduled to install Velasco as the new speaker next month.

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap and House Deputy Secretary General Brian Yamsuan both posted photos of the Cayetano-Duterte meeting in social media, making it appear the two had met in Davao City.

The Speaker’s wife, Taguig City Rep. Lani Cayetano, was also in the meeting, which Yap described as a “Chillax Night.”

Yesterday, Yap told The STAR that the meeting did take place in Metro Manila and that no promises were made when it comes to the issue on the speakership.

“The Speaker did not promise anything and Cong. Duterte also did not promise anything. If there was anything about politics in that meeting, it was a discussion on the achievements of Congress,” he said.

He added that the meeting had long been set and only materialized the other night.

Yap stressed the 2021 budget was not discussed since Duterte is “allergic” to the topic. Duterte had said before that he has always stayed away from interfering with budget allocations since he is his father’s son. –  Delon Porcalla

ALAN PETER CAYETANO
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