Next House Speaker? Cayetano open to 'share' terms with Velasco

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Incoming Taguig City Representative Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday, June 18, said that he was open to sharing the term of being the House Speaker with his rival Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of a forum with fellow congressmen in Clark, Pampanga, Cayetano said that the Velasco camp "proposed term sharing" during their trip in Japan with the President and other aspirants for the post.

"Nasabi ko sa ating Pangulo na payag na ako. Kahit I was expecting 3 years, na hati kami ni Allan Velasco," Cayetano said.

(I already told the President that I agreed. Even if I was expecting 3 years, I will share it with Allan Velasco.)

During the Japan trip, it was "agreed" that Cayetano will be the House Speaker first, and then Velasco next.

"Nung nagsabi na ang Presidente ng term sharing, ayaw pumayag ni Congressman Velasco na siya ang pangalawa. So 'yun ang status ngayon. Ang problema kung anu-anong intriga ang lumalabas, anu-anong paraan ng pangangampanya na hindi naman dapat," Cayetano told reporters.

(When the President decided on term sharing, Congressman Velasco didn't want to be second. That's our status now. Another problem is that there are rumors going around and that there are ways of campaigning that shouldn't be done.)

Incoming 25 National Unity Party lawmakers in the 18th Congress are expected to vote for Cayetano during the election for speaker.

Meanwhile, Velasco, whose bid was backed by presidential daughter Sara Duterte, was accused of allegedly bribing his colleagues to vote for him. He denied buying his way to speakership.

Cayetano said that the "call" is really with Velasco if he is amenable with the arrangement. 

"I'm just hoping that everyone who is telling the President na 'susunod ako' ay susunod talaga. Dahil 'yung iba nagpropose pero 'pag tingin nila hindi pabor sa kanila, nagbabago ng isip," Cayetano said, in what seemed to be a swipe at Velasco.

(I'm just hoping that everyone who is telling the President that 'I'll follow' will really follow him. Because others propose but if they think that it's not in their favor, will suddenly change their minds.)

But he said that his colleagues in the House should vote for someone with experience like him.

"Bago pa 'yung iba eh. (The others are newbies.) They don't have the same experience that I fortunately have. Not only with running with the President but being involved [in the government] for the last 27 years," Cayetano said.

"I'm saying that they should vote who's the best for the country and the President should have a real partner. Since siya na ang nagsabi kung sino ang gusto niyang partner (Since it was him who said who he wants to be his partner), we have to respect that," he added.

Apart from Cayetano and Velasco, incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, the ousted speaker who wants another shot at the post, are also top contenders in the House Speakership race.

Cayetano said he was open to sharing terms with only one lawmaker as more than that may "affect" the productivity of the institution. 

The 18th Congress will officially open on July 22, during the President's State of the Nation Address. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.