Cayetano claims Velasco backed out of term-sharing agreement for Speaker

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig City-Pateros 1st District representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano claimed on Thursday, June 27, that Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco had already agreed to a term-sharing scheme for Speaker, only to pull out of the agreement supported by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement on Thursday, Cayetano confirmed that "there was already an agreement in principle" on the term-sharing deal for the speakership on Monday night, June 24.

"It is for this reason that I am deeply disappointed that after we both expressed full agreement with the President's proposal, Rep Velasco and his wife are now making a turnaround and won't honor [the] President's wishes," Cayetano said.

Cayetano made the statement two days after 4 major blocs in the House of Representatives – including the ruling PDP-Laban – signed a manifesto backing Velasco’s speakership bid.

The former foreign affairs chief said Duterte himself supposedly suggested the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco as a “win-win” solution in the heated speakership race.

Another administration ally is vying for the top House post, Leyte 1st District Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, the Lakas-CMD president.

Both Velasco and Romualdez had rejected the term-sharing proposal.

Cayetano, for his part, stressed on Thursday that he would abide by Duterte's "recommendation."

"I want to reiterate that I am committed to support and follow the President as he in many occasions mentioned term sharing between myself and Cong velasco. I trust and respect the President's wisdom," he said.

He added: "The term-sharing scheme has been proposed as a 'win-win solution' to resolve the Speakership issue. I am willing to abide by the recommendation of the President."

But earlier this month on June 18, Cayetano had also claimed that the term-sharing proposal allegedly came from the Velasco camp.  

Velasco, however, has repeatedly said in the past weeks that he was not keen to share the speakership, if elected, saying it would "only weaken the speakership, disrupt the flow of legislative work and more importantly, derail key measures that we are mandated to carry forward." 

The  party-list bloc  in the House is also against the term-sharing proposal. 

For now, the numbers do not seem to be on the side of Cayetano, who was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 polls and served as his foreign secretary before returning to politics.

Both the camps of Velasco and Romualdez had separately claimed they had the numbers to win the speakership race, citing separate manifestos signed by lawmakers expressing commitment to vote for them.

Romualdez led a multi-party caucus on Wednesday, June 26, to lay down the House’s legislative priorities should he become the Speaker. Romualdez later met with Duterte himself in Malacañang on Wednesday night to report to the President what transpired during this meeting. 

Duterte already said he would not endorse a candidate for speaker and would let House members sort out the issue among themselves. But several legislators remained hopeful that the President would give his final blessing to a chosen candidate. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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