MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte had to stop the allies of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano from hurling insults against Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco before the two camps agreed to a change in the House of Representatives leadership next month, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon confirmed an ABS-CBN source's claim that Duterte, in his meeting with Cayetano and Velasco late Tuesday, stressed the importance of honoring one's word and enforcing the Speakership term-sharing deal.
Under the "gentleman's agreement" that Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano will lead the House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until October, while Velasco would assume leadership for the next 21 months.
"Hinihintay niyang (Duterte) magsalita ang both parties. He didn’t want to impose, even though he was very clear in his heart, in his mind what he wanted to convey," Leachon told ANC.
"Hindi niya sinabing, ‘O sumunod kayo sa akin.’ He just let these two agree on some terms."
(He was waiting for both parties to speak... He did not say, 'Obey me.')
Cayetano, Velasco and the Speaker's allies Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta and Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado all gave speeches before the President, said Leachon.
The Cayetano camp, he said, claimed that though they wanted to uphold the deal, Velasco "betrayed" them by supposedly mounting several failed power grabs and had offered the post of senior Deputy Speaker to his supporters.
"Sabi niya (Duterte), ‘Okay, tama na ‘yan.’ Pero napakabait, dahil binigyan naman lahat ng pagkakataon magsalita," Leachon said.
(Duterte said, 'Okay, that is enough.' But he was very kind because he gave everyone a change to speak.)
"For that reason, in behalf of Cong. Velasco and all us there, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the President for giving such important time to all of us. He has shown to me not only the President of the country, but likewise, just like a father of a family, he wants all things in order," he said.
CAYETANO CAMP GOES ON DEFENSE
This accusation is "a total lie," said Villafuerte. "Sana ilabas 'yung footage," he said in a separate ANC interview.
(I hope the footage is made public.)
He said he told Duterte that lawmakers "will follow you, whatever you want because if it’s an agreement, we will follow," but he appealed to the President "listen to what is in our hearts and minds."
"I said, Mr. President, we want a leader who is with us all the way, in good times and in bad times."
Villafuerte said he simply noted that Velasco was absent when the House of Representatives decided on the Anti-Terrorism Act, the franchise denial of ABS-CBN, and the COVID-19 relief packages.
"I clearly said wala si Lord Velasco in those times. Hindi insulto 'yun (that is not an insult), that’s a matter of fact. Alan was there to guide us. We got flak left and right for passing all these bills, but we passed these because we believe in it," he said.
"We want a leader who will lead us, who has a voice, who has a stand. 'Yun ang sinabi ko exactly. We appeal that if you let Congress and its members decide," he said.
OCT. 14 POWER SHIFT?
Leachon said both parties eventually agreed that Velasco would succeed Cayetano on Oct. 14.
"'Sana umabot ako na Speaker pa rin ako nang birthday ko,' sabi ni Speaker Cayetano, which will be on Oct. 28. Sabi naman ni Cong. Velasco, 'e birthday ko rin sa Nov. 9.' So parang ganoon lang," he added.
(Speaker Cayetano said he wanted to be Speaker until his birthday, which will be on Oct. 28. Cong. Velasco said he will also mark his birthday on Nov. 9, so they just agreed to that.)
Both camps also agreed that other current House leaders would retain their posts, he said.
"The proposition of the Speaker [was] not to change the leadership… Cong. Velasco actually agreed to that," said Leachon.
However, the supposed Oct. 14 leadership change "was not clear" during the meeting, claimed Villafuerte.
"How can you be the new Speaker? You still have to be voted upon," he said. "Ang nangyari, wala pang 2 minutes, may bagong Speaker na, and then nagkaroon na ng date, October 14. I was there, wala namang sinabi ang Presidente na October 14," he said.
(What happened was in less than 2 minutes, there was a new Speaker and there was even a date, Oct. 14. I was there and the President did not mention Oct. 14.)