MANILA — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for putting “to rest” the struggle for the House of Representative’s top post, despite a term-sharing deal that he brokered.
Earlier this week, the President urged Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to uphold their agreement, according to some of their allies. However, Duterte “respects” the decision by a majority of lawmakers to reject Cayetano’s resignation on Wednesday, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
“I welcome the many statements of the President upholding the independence of Congress, and respecting the votes of confidence given by its members to the present leadership and finally putting this controversy to rest,” Cayetano said on Facebook.
Cayetano on Wednesday night met with Duterte in what was supposed to be a “pray-over” session of the president with Deputy House Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Roque told reporters.
No information has been released as to what Duterte and his running mate during the 2016 elections talked about. (Cayetano lost to Vice President Leni Robredo).
A few hours earlier that meeting, Cayetano hit Velasco in a speech at the House of Representatives, and also offered to resign, but which his colleagues rejected.
In a statement posted late Wednesday night on his social media accounts, Velasco said Cayetano’s "political maneuverings and theatrics” cost the House 2 days that were “crucial in meeting our timeline” for the 2021 budget.
In a meeting Tuesday night in Malacanang, the parties have agreed that Velasco will take over as House Speaker on Oct. 14, according to a source from the Velasco camp, who added that it was the President who decided to enforce the agreement which he brokered last year.
At the end of that meeting, it was reportedly agreed upon by all parties that Cayetano will make an announcement Wednesday.
In his statement Wednesday night, Velasco said, "To Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, it was only last night when you promised to resign on Oct. 14 when the President ordered you to honor the term-sharing agreement."
"Moreover, the President entrusted you with the task of announcing the date of the turnover. Oct. 14 was chosen as the date for the turnover because we committed to pass the budget before Oct. 14 and do nothing that would disrupt or derail the process," Velasco said.
Velasco has yet to issue another statement, as of posting time, after Cayetano's social media post Thursday afternoon.
Roque, in a press briefing Thursday noon, said the controversy is over and that the President was urging lawmakers to pass the spending plan that included funds for the coronavirus pandemic.
Cayetano said he agreed with some critics that “ the country deserves better from this House of the People” and that lawmakers “must not put partisan interests before the public welfare.”
“If there was some other way, a less divisive and political way, to do this - I would do it. But for now, let us resolve to move past this as quickly as possible, fix what has been broken, and show the country that we are worthy of their continued high regard," he said.
In his latest statement, Velasco assured his colleagues that "we will be a gracious leader who would listen and be responsive to your concerns."
"But l make an earnest plea: Let us uphold the dignity of the House of Representatives by being men and women who believe in 'Palabra de Honor' in keeping our word and upholding the term-sharing agreement Speaker Cayetano and I swore to honor and respect," he added.