House minority says 'not prudent' to change Speaker during pandemic, budget deliberations

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2020 12:23 PM

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MANILA - The House Minority supported Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's stay at the chamber's helm in order to pass urgent pieces of legislation such as the 2021 national budget and the country's pandemic response, its leader said Wednesday, after the two lawmakers vying for the position met with President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday night.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over as House Speaker on Oct. 14, while some 203 lawmakers support incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to remain in his post, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga earlier said.

The two had earlier agreed on a term-sharing agreement. 

"I don’t think there will be any problem, Lord Allan is also a very good congressman, a kind man also, I think we can be able to work with him. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is more experienced in handling this situation," House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante told ANC.

"We in the minority, we will abide with the decision of the majority on the matter. We said we recognize the choice of House Speakership rightfully belongs to our distinct colleagues on the majority. The minority is a mere passive observer in this process."

Abante said he was among those who supported Cayetano as the latter "did a good job as Speaker."

"We did because there are 2 things: pandemic and budget. We did not want to rock the boat in the middle of the ocean," he said.

"I would think it would be prudent for us not to change leadership at this time, I think even Lord Allan would understand that. Ang sa'min lang sa minority (for us in the minority), you do not try to change something that would affect the budget deliberation."

The House Minority might attract more members from the majority after the speakership row but it also expects some current members to jump ship, according to Abante.

"I have to accept the fact that when it comes to Speakership the President will always wield a great influence. After the speakership row is resolved, Congress will continue to be independent," he added.