Speaker aspirants Cayetano, Velasco join Duterte's Bangkok trip

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2019 08:13 AM

SPEAKERSHIP RACE: Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig City 1st District Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano pose for a photo with members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo courtesy of Velasco's office

MANILA -- House Speaker aspirants Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig City 1st District Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano joined President Rodrigo Duterte in his trip to Thailand for the 34th ASEAN Summit.

Photos from the ASEAN Summit show Velasco at the gala dinner for ASEAN leaders, while Cayetano accompanied Duterte in his meeting with Thai business leaders on the sidelines of the regional summit.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco pose for a photo with members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo courtesy of Velasco's office

President Duterte is expected to announce his bet for the next House Speaker on Friday.

Asked whether he went to Bangkok to court President Duterte's endorsement, Cayetano said he has "unfinished work" as former foreign affairs chief.

“I’m former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, so I look forward to seeing my colleagues mamayang gabi (later tonight), may mga unfinished work (there are some unfinished work),” he said Saturday.

“I took this time here sa ASEAN to link up with the different secretaries to ask them to attend and give their points of view and to connect with legislators on the President's vision so it can become a reality," he added.

Taguig City 1st District Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano pose for a photo with members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo from Cayetano's Facebook page

Both Cayetano and Velasco also joined President Duterte in his working visit to Japan last month.

Last Tuesday, as many as 130 congressmen attended a fellowship dinner with Velasco. Cayetano, meanwhile, hosted his own fellowship dinner in Clark, Pampanga with only around 50 lawmakers attending.

Cayetano, the President's losing running mate in the 2016 elections, vowed to support Duterte on whoever the Chief Executive decides to endorse for the House leadership.

“Kung anuman ang choice niya (whatever his choice is), I’ve committed to support him,” he said.

Cayetano said the President had offered him and Velasco a term-sharing agreement, which the Marinduque lawmaker supposedly rejected.

Asked on whether lobbying to get the President’s endorsement in the speakership race is a violation of the separation of powers, Cayetano said it is not since the House "always had a symbiotic relationship with Malacañang.” 

“Just because the President chooses the leader, hindi naman ibig sabihin sunud-sunuran. Pero ibig sabihin we will lead in fighting for his agenda,” he said.

(It doesn't mean that we will become blind followers. It only means that we will lead in fighting his agenda.)

“Ang Pangulo mismo ay hindi humihingi ng rubber stamp. Ang hinihingi niya ay katuwang sa trabaho," he said.

(The President is not asking for a rubber stamp. He is asking for a partner in work.)