Cayetano apologizes to Duterte, public amid House power struggle

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2020 05:05 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Sept. 29, 2020 regarding the term-sharing agreement for the speakership which the president brokered in 2019 as Senator Bong Go looks on. This was hours before Velasco secured the post and is due to take over on Oct. 14, according to a source from the Velasco camp. Courtesy of Sen. Bong Go/File

MANILA - Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday issued a public apology to President Rodrigo Duterte and the public as he belittled the apology earlier issued by political rival Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco over the ongoing House leadership row that has affected the 2021 national budget deliberations.

Velasco earlier accused the Cayetano of blackmailing Duterte by holding the budget plan hostage if the latter isn't able to cling on to the Speakership. He 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," said the Marinduque lawmaker.

In response, Cayetano blamed Velasco in a privilege speech at the lower chamber for the lower House dispute. 

“I sincerely apologize to the President that he had to hear that. And just like Congressman Velasco, I’m sorry to our people that we have to do this at this time," he said.

"But unlike Congressman Velasco, whose apology is hilaw and insincere. Why? Eh nag sorry ka eh, [tapos] banat nang banat mga tao mo tungkol sa budget. Nang-iintriga kayo tungkol sa budget, 'di ba."

The House of Representatives earlier in the day approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon Cayetano's motion, terminating deliberations on the spending plan amid his leadership tussle with Velasco.

Cayetano assured House members that he will work on all their problems and vowed full transparency in the passage of the 2021 budget as he moved for its quick approval.

"It will be transparent. I will find a way to present the budget to you na walang taguan," he said.

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