203 congressmen back Cayetano to remain as Speaker: lawmaker


Posted at Sep 29 2020 08:33 AM | Updated as of Sep 29 2020 08:52 AM

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MANILA - Some 203 lawmakers have expressed their support for House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to remain in his post for the remainder of the 18th Congress despite a term-sharing deal with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, a congressman said Tuesday.

The House, however, still needs the President to decide whether to honor the agreement, according to Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, president of the National Unity Party, the second-largest bloc in the chamber.

"Of course we need the President in order to prevent disunity in the House. As I have stated earlier, whoever will be the Speaker, whatever will be the decision of the President, we can rest assured we will do the legislation necessary most especially the budget," he told ANC.

"We are assuring there will be no reenacted budget in 2021 whoever will be the speaker but we want to make it known to the entire country as well as the President that 203 congressmen are supporting the leadership of Alan Peter Cayetano in spite of the fact we know there was a term-sharing agreement brokered by the President."

Velasco earlier asserted that the "gentlemen's agreement" be honored. The two lawmakers are set to meet with Duterte later Tuesday as Velasco was set to take the Speakership post by October.

Velasco has yet to reach out to his colleagues regarding his leadership plan for the House, Barzaga said.

"There was no presence on the part of Lord Allan insofar as Congress is concerned, most especially when we are discussing bills of utmost importance like Bayanihan 1 and 2 as well as the budget last year and the current budget which we are discussing right now," he said.

"Sep. 30 would be tomorrow but Lord Allan has not even called any of the House leaders, informing us that in the event there would be change in leadership, this is what would happen to your chairmanship, to your position, this would be the way I would be running the House of Representatives."

Retaining Cayetano as House Speaker would enable the chamber to "pass any legislation without any hitch," Barzaga said.

"With this pandemic existing, we cannot afford a reenacted budget, we cannot afford to have a Congress which will be disunited and which cannot pass the necessary legislation to address the pandemic problem," he said.