Velasco accuses Cayetano of holding national budget hostage


Posted at Oct 02 2020 10:50 PM | Updated as of Oct 02 2020 11:42 PM


MANILA (2nd UPDATE)- Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Friday accused House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of holding the 2021 national budget hostage amid their dispute over the House leadership.

Velasco, in a Facebook video, lashed out at Cayetano's attempts to malign him, and the latter's refusal to honor the term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte for the House leadership last year.

Cayetano and his allies in the House of Representatives in September accused Velasco of failing to prove his capability to lead the lower chamber.

"For the last month, the attacks have escalated to malign me and paint me as power-hungry and evil. But in spite of these, I have kept quiet as a gentleman and a statesman out of respect for the President," Velasco said.

The Marinduque lawmaker accused the solon from Taguig of betraying "multiple times" the 2019 agreement, in which Cayetano should hand over the reins of the House to Velasco after 15 months, or on October 14 this year.

Velasco criticized Cayetano's earlier offer to resign that was rejected by the lower House majority. The latter had said it was due to the former's supposed eagerness to take over the chamber's helm.

"In his desperate attempt to hang on to power and tighten his grip on House leadership, Speaker Cayetano shamelessly and unabashedly resorted to attacking me and spreading lies," the Marinduque representative said.

He said Cayetano's attempt to hang on to the Speakership on the pretext of the ongoing deliberations for the 2021 national budget only raises suspicions on his true intent.

"Kaya madami pong dismayado nitong mga araw sa 'di patas na paglalagak ng mga proyekto sa lahat ng distrito," Velasco said.

In September, House members bickered after it was discovered that a bigger infrastructure budget compared to other districts was allocated for Taguig City, where separate districts are represented by Cayetano and his spouse.

He questioned Cayetano and his allies' motives regarding the budget.

"Budget ba ito sa bayan o budget ng mga barkada mo? Makabuluhang budget ba ito sa gitna ng pandemya, o malaking budget ba ito para sa grupo mo?" he said.

"Is this why Speaker Cayetano and his sidekicks are adamant and fiercely fighting the peaceful transition of House leadership. Is this why Speaker Cayetano is trying to blackmail President Duterte and hold the budget hostage if his term is not extended?" he added.

Velasco apologized to the public for the controversy miring the House leadership and budget deliberations.

"To the Filipino people whom we have promised to serve, I express my deep apology on behalf of my colleagues in Congress because you don’t deserve this. Bilang halal ng bayan at inyong lingkod-bayan, kayo ay dapat pagsilbihan. Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin at pang-unawa."

Velasco urged Cayetano to "stop with the theatrics" and resign on Oct. 14.

"In the coming days, weeks and months, let us show the public that we, as representatives, are still decent, honorable and trustworthy leaders whose only agenda is to serve the people."

Cayetano has yet to respond to Velasco's latest statements, as of posting.

Velasco's camp earlier in the day said they will move to declare the House Speaker seat vacant if Cayetano does not resign from his post on Oct. 14.

Duterte earlier pushed Cayetano to uphold the term-sharing deal and let Velasco lead the House, two of its members said Wednesday.

However, another lawmaker said that the term-sharing agreement between the two is not binding on the members of the lower chamber.

-with a report from Zandro Ochona and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News