Term-sharing out the window? Deal with Velasco 'still stands' – Cayetano

TARLAC, Philippines – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano dismissed speculations his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Representative Lord Velasco would likely not push through.

“Walang dapat ikaba ‘yong kahit sino kasi nga, lahat naman tayo sumasang-ayon na Pangulo ang magde-decide [sa speakership]. And so far, mayroon siyang standing decision. So, so far, that stands,” Cayetano told reporters on the sidelines of his inspection of the 2019 SEA Games sports facilities in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac on Wednesday, October 16. 

(There’s no reason for anyone to be worried here because all of us have agreed that the President gets to decide on the speakership. And so far, he has a standing decision. So, so far, that stands.)

The Speaker was asked to react after two ranking House members – Deputy Speaker Michael Romero and House committee on natural resources Elpidio Barzaga Jr – said it would be difficult to replace Cayetano after he got a 62% trust rating and 64% approval rating in the September Pulse Asia survey. 

Barzaga is the president of the National Unity Party, the second biggest bloc in the House with 57 members. Romero, meanwhile, is head of the 54-strong party-list coalition.

“I am sure he will sustain that performance. There is no reason for him not to. So why change or swap horses in midstream? We might as well retain him as our Speaker for 3 years until June 30, 2022,” said Barzaga, who is Cavite 4th District congresswoman.

Romero shared the same sentiments, but also said it would still be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide whether or not the term-sharing deal he had endorsed between his allies Cayetano and  Velasco would continue.

“Like before we elected our Speaker in July, most of us congressmen would listen to what the President would suggest on this issue. But I think he would also listen to what we House members collectively will have to say,” said Romero, who represents the 1-Pacman party-list group. 

Cayetano was thankful for the praises from his colleagues, but urged them to focus on their legislative work for now. 

“Salamat sa mga comments na gano’n. Pero siguro, focused tayo sa trabaho na lang muna. No use to talk about something na malayo pa eh,” said the Taguig City-Pateros representative. 

(Thank you for those kinds of comments. But perhaps we should be focused on work for now. No use to talk about something that’s still far off.) 

Cayetano, Velasco, and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez were the 3 strongest contenders for the speakership in July.

It was a heated battle that divided the House, until Duterte himself intervened and said Cayetano would be Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will lead the House in the remaining 21 months after that.

Under the same term-sharing deal, Romualdez was given the job of majority leader, which he would keep for all 3 years of the 18th Congress. – 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.