MANILA— Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's move to rush the passage of the 2021 national budget and derail a plan to unseat him was "a very astute political move."
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon Cayetano's motion. His allies also moved to suspend session until Nov. 16, pre-empting the Oct. 14 change in leadership per his term-sharing agreement with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
"It is not illegal, but I would think it’s a very astute political move because it avoided intramural that could have possible happened in Oct. 14," Roque told CNN Philippines.
"For what it's worth, you need to have the experience of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano because he has dealt with the same rules, not only for 3 terms as congressman—this is already his fourth term as congressman—but also as a 2-termer senator," he added.
Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza on Tuesday accused Cayetano of violating House rules when he was purportedly muted while trying to object to Tuesday's development through video conferencing.
"Whether you’re on Zoom or live, that has been done by the House leaderships, actually. it is not the first time in the history of either the House or the senate that mics have been muted," said Roque, a former sectoral lawmaker.
During the 2018 coup against then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, supporters of his successor, former President and then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could not be heard because their mics were turned off, said Roque.
"Another thing they literally do when they want to achieve an objective is they run away with the seal," he added.
Cayetano was supposed to serve as Speaker until this month, followed by Velasco, under a term-sharing deal that President Rodrigo Duterte forged. Last week, Cayetano offered to resign, which was quickly rejected by majority of lawmakers.
“Whether or not that is in compliance with the gentleman’s agreement, I leave that up to the parties,” Roque said.
“In an issue such as this, there is no judge. Even the courts cannot intervene because the organization and leadership of the House is a purely internal matter. And the Executive cannot really intervene in the choice of who next Speaker will be,” he added.