MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano should honor the term-sharing agreement he has with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, their colleague at the House of Representatives said Wednesday.
In a statement, BUHAY Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza "strongly reminded" Cayetano to honor, "with no conditions", the deal endorsed no less by President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Speaker Cayetano assumed the Speakership on the basis of the term-sharing agreement between him and Cong. Velasco. They agreed upon that arrangement as suggested by Cayetano himself," Atienza said.
"They agreed to this in front of no less than President Duterte himself," he added.
"Now that his term is about to end and Cong. Velasco is about to begin his, why is the Speaker’s supporters questioning if Cong. Velasco has the numbers? It is totally unfair to make it a condition now."
According to the deal forged last year, Cayetano is supposed to handover the House leadership under the 18th Congress to Velasco next month.
The Speakership made headlines this weekend after the President's son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte, reportedly said he would declare Cayetano's post vacant last Monday to pave the way for the election of a new Speaker as lawmakers bicker over the 2021 national budget.
As Cayetano eventually kept the post, his ally, Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur claimed that majority of their colleagues want the former to stay on as their leader, saying Velasco "was never really active in Congress" after the 15-21 months term-sharing deal was announced.
"He should have been active and partnered with the Speaker in working in Congress. I haven’t seen or heard Cong. Lord be active in any major issue. We don’t see him in Congress. It was really his choice not to be the presumptive Speaker," Villafuerte told ANC on Tuesday.
Velasco explained his silence "during the duration of the Gentleman’s agreement" is "in deference and respect to the sitting Speaker."
"My silence does not mean I am disinterested nor I have turned my back on the covenant.," he said in a statement Tuesday.
According to Atienza, "Cayetano did not carry the majority numbers" when the term-sharing dealing was being brokered, "and Cong. Velasco did not ask for that to be a condition before he agreed to the agreement."
"Mr. President, please do not allow the breaking of this gentleman’s agreement to share terms. Otherwise, Congress is doomed to fail if palabra de honor and delicadeza are not followed,” Atienza said as he pointed out that Duterte's intervention is needed now.
Duterte said Monday he cannot do anything if Velasco does not have the support of the majority in the House.
Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in 2016, but he lost to Vice President Leni Robredo. He later served as Duterte's foreign minister until he decided to run for congressman.
- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News