Velasco camp behind plot to oust him, Cayetano says


Posted at Feb 27 2020 02:06 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2020 05:10 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday bared that the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco was behind a plot to oust him from the speakership -- a move the latter said was "far from truth."

Speaking at the sidelines of an orientation of a scholarship program in Taguig City, the House Speaker said he was able to trace from Velasco's camp of efforts to sabotage the work of the House of Representatives.

Several congressmen were allegedly being offered budget allocations and chairmanship positions so Velasco could take over the lower chamber's top post, he said.

"Now that he said he will wait, he intends to honor it, honor it by supporting the majority. Mayroon kasi mga pananabutahi sa budget na nangyayari ngayon that I had to deal with. Na-trace namin sa kampo nila," he said.

(Now that he said he will wait, he intends to honor it, honor it by supporting the majority. There are efforts to sabotage the budget [deliberations] that I had to deal with. We traced it on their camp.)

Cayetano urged Velasco to honor the term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte following a divisive speakership race in 2019.

Under the agreement, he would serve as House Speaker for 15 months, to be succeeded by Velasco for 21 months. Cayetano's term is until October. 

"If you can't cooperate with the present leadership, umalis muna kayo sa committees niyo, sa chairmanship niyo. Bumalik nalang kayo 'pag Speaker na si congressman Velasco. Habang ako ang Speaker, we do things by consensus. Kung ano ang tama, 'yon ang gagawin natin," he said.

(If you can't cooperate with the present leadership, you withdraw yourselves from your committees, chairmanships. You return once congressman Velasco becomes the House Speaker. While I'm still the House Speaker, we do things by consensus. On what is right, we do it that way.)

Cayetano earlier said issues on the budget and franchise renewal of media giant ABS-CBN were used to oust him from the speakership. 

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Hours before Cayetano made the revelation, Velasco denied hatching a "coup plan" to shake up the leadership of the lower house.

"The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte Administration," he said in a statement.

The Marinduque lawmaker maintained he's a man of his word.

"Up to this day, I continue to honor the term-sharing agreement brokered by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte when the 18th Congress convened in July 2019. From the beginning, I never had any intention of reneging on this agreement. Tayo po ay lalaking may isang salita (I am a man of my word)," he said.

Velasco issued the statement to "end baseless reports attributed to unnamed sources and sly innuendos being peddled by certain camps with vested interests within and outside the halls of Congress."

Ruling party PDP-Laban, where Velasco belongs, also belied Cayetano's claim, saying it would not do anything that is against the President's wishes.

"Congressman Velasco is not in a rush to become the Speaker. It is just a few months away so it doesn't make any sense if we do something that will just break the peace. PDP-Laban will not do anything or start anything that is not in line with the wishes of the president," PDP-Laban spokesman and Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said.

The PDP-Laban said it would continue to work "harmoniously" with the Taguig City-Pateros lawmaker, a stalwart of the Nacionalista Party.

"We definitely have no intention to walk away from this agreement. We have a very good working relationship with Speaker Cayetano and we intend to keep it that way. Whoever is behind all these loose talks about a coup against the speaker must have a different agenda," Pimentel added.