Speaker term-sharing deal unconstitutional, impractical: analyst

Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2020 03:16 PM

MANILA – A House Speakership term-sharing deal is unconstitutional and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano should just continue his leadership, a political analyst said Sunday.

Lawmakers of the House elect the speaker under the chamber's rules, and there is no such thing as “gentlemen’s agreement," said Ramon Casiple, executive director of think tank Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

“Ang problema, bakit nagkaroon ng usap-usapan na hatian, nagkaroon ng usap-usapan na dapat ibigay? Hindi dapat kayo pumapasok sa ganyang klaseng arrangement eh, kasi ang nag-e-elect ay ’yung buong kapulungan,” he said in an online forum.

“Hindi dapat gawin sa demokrasya ’yun,” he added. 

Under the “gentleman's agreement” that President Rodrigo Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano was to hand over the reins of the House of Representatives to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco after 15 months, which counts to October this year. Velasco, then, will serve for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress. 

WATCH: President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement in July last year about the term-sharing of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for the House Speakership:

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Lawmakers who openly support Cayetano had moved to keep him in power, saying a change in leadership would derail the passage of the 2021 national budget, among others.

Casiple agreed that it was impractical to change the House leadership that may also change committee chairmanships as the chamber deliberated on the proposed 2021 budget, preparations for the 2022 national elections, and measures on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wala sa posisyon ’yung mga congressmen na mag-tackle ng ganyang isyu, wala namang necessity. Dahil daw nagkaroon ng usapan? Ang problema, guguluhin mo ’yung Kongreso, guguluhin mo pati ’yung bayan,” he said.

While the country is in crucial political and social landscape, Casiple said the congressmen should delay, if not break, the term-sharing agreement. 

“Magugulo talaga ang trabaho ng Kongreso kung maaapektuhan halimbawa ’yung mga bills, ‘yung budget, at saka ’yung electoral reform bills. Papasok na tayo next year sa paghahanda sa eleksyon. Kung hindi pa ’yan mase-settle o magkakaroon ng paghinahon, baka magulo ang bansa natin,” he said.

Cayetano offered to quit his post last Wednesday, a move that his colleagues readily rejected with a 184-1-9 vote. Some 121 lawmakers were absent, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante earlier said.

In a video message on Friday, Velasco, who earlier sought for the enforcement of their agreement, urged Cayetano to resign on Oct. 14, as agreed with Duterte in a meeting last Tuesday.