Cayetano stays on as House speaker after offer to quit
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano responds to the discussion during a meeting with Speaker Cayetano, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco and several members of the House of Representatives on September 29, 2020.
Presidential Photo/Robinson Ninal
Cayetano stays on as House speaker after offer to quit
( - September 30, 2020 - 4:51pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated, 5:26 p.m.) — Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) on Wednesday offered to step down as the speaker of the House of Representatives but stayed on after his colleagues rejected the idea.

Cayetano made the announcement during the House plenary session less than a day after President Rodrigo Duterte met with Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) to settle the leadership row.

“I will not be a party to letting the president down so I am offering my resignation here and now to you my dear colleagues. My fate and the fate of the 2021 budget and the fate of the leadership of the House is in your hands,” Cayetano said during the last part of his lengthy speech.

Voting 184-1 with nine abstentions, the House plenary rejected Cayetano’s offer to resign.

Before the nominal voting, Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) moved to deny Cayetano’s offer to resign. This was seconded by Rep. Antonio Sy-Alvarado.

The lawmakers voted viva voce—or a vote of ayes and nays—to retain him as the leader of the House of Representatives. 

No actual vacancy

Section 13, Rule 13 of the Rules of the House of Representatives states that a "vacancy is created whenever any of the officers dies, resigns or is permanently incapacitated, or when the House declares any office vacant" but Cayetano didn't actually say that he was resigning. Neither was there a motion to declare the speakership vacant.

The scenes at the House of Representatives came after Duterte reportedly asked Cayetano, his running mate in the 2016 elections, to allow Velasco to take over. Malacañang said an announcement on the matter would be made by Cayetano.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte, Cayetano will serve as speaker for the first 15 months, which will end by October 2020, if followed. Velasco will then take over the post for 21 months or until June 2022. 

‘Clash of blocs in Duterte coalition’

Constitutional law professor Tony La Viña, a former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said the impasse between Cayetano and Velasco is a “clash of politician blocs in the Duterte coalition—and how that is resolved will mean a lot for who could win in 2022 and who President Duterte would support.” 

Dennis Coronacion, chair of the University of Santo Tomas Political Science Department, said that the chief executive’s involvement in the leadership row again puts the independence of the lower chamber in question. 

“Why did our congressmen have to bring in the president to settle their leadership issue?” he told earlier Wednesday.

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