Palace: Duterte told Velasco he 'had right' to run for House Speaker

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2020 01:12 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2020 06:35 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— President Rodrigo Duterte has told Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco that he "had a right" to run as leader of the House of Representatives. 

Duterte had brokered a "gentleman's agreement" for Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, his 2016 running mate who lost to Vice President Leni Robredo, to serve as Speaker until this month and be replaced by Velasco, the President's PDP-Laban party-mate.

Last Wednesday, Cayetano offered to resign, but a majority of lawmakers rejected his move. 

Velasco sought an audience with Duterte late Monday, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

"Humingi po ng permiso si Cong. Lord Allan para tumakbo bilang Speaker. At ang sagot po ng Presidente: 'Karapatan mo iyan, sang-ayon sa kasunduan ninyo kay Speaker Alan Cayetano'," Roque said Tuesday. 

(Cong. Lord Allan asked for permission to run as Speaker. And the President's reply was: 'That is your right, according to your agreement with Speaker Alan Cayetano.) 

But Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, also a PDP-Laban stalwart, claimed that Duterte "was categorical when he said, 'Lord [Velasco], it is your time now. I have already spoken. You have to insist on your right based on the term-sharing agreement." 

"That's why we expect Speaker Alan Cayetano to resign on October 14," Leachon said in a statement, referring to the House Speakership turnover date supposedly agreed upon by the two contenders when they met with Duterte early last week.

Velasco's camp is confident that he would "get the necessary votes, once the Speaker steps aside and honors the agreement," said Leachon.

"The Super Majority does not belong to Speaker Cayetano but allied with the President of which PDP Laban is the largest bloc in the coalition, and for anyone who would renege on the term sharing agreement from any member of the coalition is actually defying the wishes of the President," he added.

Duterte had said in 2 separate occasions that while he wanted the term-sharing deal to be enforced, he cannot do anything if Velasco did not have enough lawmakers on his side, Roque earlier told TeleRadyo. 

Congress will go on a recess from Oct. 17 to Nov. 15.