MANILA -- The struggle for the House of Representatives' top post is "over" following the rejection of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's resignation, Malacañang said Thursday, as it urged lawmakers to pass the national budget for the coronavirus pandemic fight.
Under a "gentleman's agreement" that President Rodrigo Duterte brokered, Cayetano was supposed to serve as Speaker until October and pass the post to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco. Cayetano resigned on Wednesday, only for majority of lawmakers to reject his move immediately after.
"Well, tingin ko tapos na naman po ang controversy 'no. At ang talagang paulit-ulit na pakiusap ni Presidente, kinakailangan mapasa ang ating COVID-19 budget on time," Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.
(I think this controversy is over. The President has repeatedly asked for our COVID-19 budget to pass.)
"That’s what happened yesterday: He offered to resign, it was rejected, he continues to be Speaker," he added.
Duterte "respects" the House decision to keep Cayetano as Speaker, said Roque.
Earlier this week, Duterte had urged Cayetano and Velasco to uphold the term-sharing deal, said several lawmakers.
The President on Wednesday night met with Cayetano during what was supposed to be a "pray-over" organized by Deputy House Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Roque said.
Velasco on the same day said Cayetano’s "political maneuverings and theatrics” cost the House 2 days that were “crucial in meeting our timeline” for the 2021 budget.
Congress will go on a 2-month break on Oct. 17. If lawmakers fail to pass the national spending plan before this, the government will rely on a reenacted budget that does not include allotments for the coronavirus pandemic, said Roque.