Lawmakers set aside dislike of Cayetano for Speaker to secure House posts

MANILA, Philippines – Several House members have reportedly thrown their support behind speakership aspirant Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano in a bid to secure the key leadership positions they want in the 18th Congress.

A source told Rappler on Tuesday, July 9, that legislators are setting aside their personal dislike of Cayetano now that he has secured the endorsement of President Rodrigo Duterte to share terms with another speakership hopeful, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Before Duterte's announcement, Cayetano had issued a statement, claiming support from the Nacionalista Party, particularly "stalwarts" Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Deputy Speaker and Batangas 2nd District Representative Raneo Abu. 

Yong ibang mga congressman siyempre nagsa-sign-up for Cayetano kasi siya na raw ang Speaker, ’di ba? Ang bottomline is the committee assignments,” said a House source who is privy to  the sentiments of major blocs in the House regarding the speakership race.

(Other congressmen are signing up for Cayetano, of course, because he will supposedly become the Speaker, right? The bottomline here is [getting] committee assignments.)

"They are aspiring for committee chairmanships or senior positions in the House, like deputy speakers, CA (Commission on Appointments), HRET (House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal), vice chairmen of the appropriations committee. These are perceived to be powerful positions so lahat ’yan naglalaro (all of them are playing along) to fulfill their aspirations,” explained the source. 

Case in point is the 54-strong party-list bloc, which is supporting Cayetano “for now” despite previously expressing its strong opposition against any term-sharing schemes for the Speaker post. 

All that the party-list coalition – the second biggest bloc in the House – wants from Cayetano is for him to follow through on his commitment to grant them 20% of the total leadership positions. 

“We are very confident that the 20% allocations for the 61 party-list and 54 party-list coalition members will all be given by Alan Peter Cayetano because we comprise 20% of the whole Congress and they have to respect that,” 1-Pacman Representative Mikee Romero told reporters at a hotel in Pasig City. 

The same goes for 72 out of 162 legislators who were initially backing Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez for Speaker but who will now support Cayetano instead. Romualdez will become the House Majority Leader under the deal agreed upon by the 3 speakership candidates with the President.

According to Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, the pro-Romualdez bloc members were promised key posts in the House should the Leyte congressman win as Speaker. 

Now that he has accepted the Majority Leader job, Romualdez committed to help his allies get some of the leadership positions he had promised them.  

“To be practical about it, we also asked Martin to still fight for the aspirations of those who supported him with respect to their committee memberships and chairmanship as far as possible,” said Salceda. 

“But of course the group also said that we also have our own connections to the new Speaker,” he added. 

Of the Duterte allies vying for the highest post in the House, Cayetano is believed to have the weakest support among House members, failing to cultivate personal relationships with congressmen before announcing his bid for Speaker.

Influential presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte also previously claimed Cayetano made a "veiled threat" against her should she decide to support the speakership bid of Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.  

On the day he got Duterte’s endorsement did Cayetano invite House members to join the “Die-hard Duterte Supermajority” bloc or DDSM under his leadership.

Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in the 2016 elections, though he lost the vice presidential race. The President later appointed him as foreign affairs secretary. – 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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