Speakership vote: Physical presence, not Zoom, urged
“Do you (media) really believe the voting was 184-1? I don’t believe that. It’s because we were muted during the voting. The camp of Speaker Cayetano has been using that to their advantage,” Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie Teves Jr. said, referring to lawmakers’ supposed rejection of Cayetano’s offer to resign to give way to the term sharing agreement with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
STAR/File
Speakership vote: Physical presence, not Zoom, urged
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the House of Representatives prepares for a showdown over the speakership on Oct. 14, a lawmaker and a party-list coalition have called for their physical presence in the chamber instead of mere Zoom session, which they said supporters of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano might manipulate to their advantage.

“Do you (media) really believe the voting was 184-1? I don’t believe that. It’s because we were muted during the voting. The camp of Speaker Cayetano has been using that to their advantage,” Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie Teves Jr. said, referring to lawmakers’ supposed rejection of Cayetano’s offer to resign to give way to the term sharing agreement with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

“I raised a point of order. For those who know parliamentary procedures, a point of order – once made – is a priority motion. Whatever happens it should always be recognized. How will you be recognized if you are muted?” Teves told House reporters yesterday in a Zoom press conference.

Teves was the lawmaker who questioned the P11- billion allocation for Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte’s second district in Camarines Sur, along with Cayetano’s nearly P10-billion project allocations in Taguig.

“I hope this reaches President Duterte so that he can see that what’s happening in the House is wrong. It may be an independent body but I don’t know where else to run and the President is the most powerful man in the country,” he said.

“I want him to see that the proceedings in the House are being railroaded,” Teves stressed.

The 54-member Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), whose president Rep. Mikee Romero (1Pacman) was unceremoniously booted out last week as deputy speaker by Cayetano’s camp, also said it wants to have a policy of “physical presence at plenary sessions.” Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, a Cayetano ally, has taken over Romero’s post.

“We also collectively assert our right to be physically present on the plenary floor so we could swiftly take action given the flurry of tactical maneuvers happening at plenary, far from the limits placed on us who participate only remotely and virtually,” the coalition said.

“Given recent developments, our constituencies’ voices are under siege and being marginalized yet again… we are unable to balance our participation because we are reduced to being remote spectators while those physically present on the floor have their way.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon said the camp of Velasco has now gathered at least 160 congressmen to its side.

“The House members are now realizing the real state of Congress. Issues of inequity of treatment and senselessly vindictive attitude towards those who don’t align with their manner of management. They want change,” Leachon said.

“Those are the reasons why many are starting to jump ship. Not to mention that it’s really the right thing to do – to abide by everyone’s palabra de honor. Non-compliance is a stain in governance and obviously impresses short of integrity to govern among equals,” he added.

Atienza made the same observation, especially after Romero was removed as deputy speaker.

“Alan (Cayetano) has lost a lot of support (following Romero’s removal as deputy speaker),” Atienza said, noting that Romero wields influence over the party-list coalition.

He also surmised that the President’s political party, PDP-Laban, “will be in support of Velasco.” There are a total of 65 House members belonging to PDP-Laban.

The National People’s Coalition, which has 35 members in the House, is also backing Velasco as speaker. “All he has to do is call the smaller groups,” Atienza said.

He claimed a majority of pro-administration lawmakers were dismayed by Cayetano’s continued refusal to honor the term-sharing agreement for the speakership, which many viewed as an open defiance of the President’s will.

“The President was clear in his statement that he wants the term-sharing honored by both camps. That was what the President said, so honor your word,” Atienza said, addressing Cayetano.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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