MANILA - Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said Friday President Rodrigo Duterte told him they were both "fooled" when Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano made moves to stay at his post despite a term-sharing deal with Velasco.
Cayetano took the plenary floor Wednesday last week after an initial meeting with Duterte about the term-sharing deal with Velasco.
The current House leader offered to step down, but his colleagues rejected this move in a nominal vote.
Velasco met with Duterte privately the following Monday, and the President was visibly enraged, said the lawmaker.
"Kitang kita ko 'yung galit ng Pangulo. Sabi sa akin ni Pangulo, ‘Lord, hindi lang ikaw ang napahiya dito, tayong dalawa.’ Actually, the President used the word ‘Lord, nadenggoy tayong dalawa," he told ANC's Headstart.
(I saw the President's anger. The President told me, 'Lord, you're not the only one embarrassed here, it's the two of us.' Actually, the President used the word, 'Lord, we were both fooled.')
In an earlier press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte told Velasco in the said meeting that he had the right to run for Speaker.
Velasco said in the Sept. 29 meeting at Malacañang, Duterte asked Cayetano to resign on Oct. 14 and they shook on it.
"Sabi niya kay Speaker Cayetano (He told Speaker Cayetano), ‘Alan, ok na. Oct. 14, you will resign. You will announce that on Oct. 14 you are resigning because you abide by the gentleman’s agreement.’ After that, nag-shake sila ng hands," he said.
Under the term-sharing agreement brokered by Duterte last year, Cayetano was supposed to lead the House in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress and then Velasco in the last 21 months.
Velasco said he entered the deal "with full trust and confidence" that it will be executed on time.
During the meeting last week with Duterte, Velasco recalled that Cayetano initially sought to stay in the position until December, when the 2021 budget was expected to be enacted, but he insisted on the earlier agreement, suggesting the Oct. 14 date as the House is expected to pass the budget in final reading then.
On Tuesday, the chamber passed the General Appropriations Bill on second reading after a motion by Cayetano. Sessions were subsequently suspended until November 16.
This move is "illegal" because it is "tantamount to adjournment" and the House cannot adjourn for more than 3 days without the concurrence of Senate, said Velasco. Both houses of Congress were set to adjourn session on October 17.
Velasco said a resolution is going around among representatives to seek the resumption of session and continue with the budget deliberation as this is the "only way" to pass it on time.
"Even if the session is suspended, if the majority wants to open the session, they can open session," he said.
Duterte on Thursday night asked lawmakers to refrain from any political "play" that would imperil the approval of the 2021 budget.
"Either you resolve the issue sa impasse n'yo d'yan and pass the budget legally, constitutionally. 'Pag hindi n’yo ginawa, ako ang gagawa para sa inyo," Duterte said in a taped public address.
(Either you resolve that impasse there and pass the budget legally, constitutionally. If you do not do that, I will do that for you.)
Velasco said he is willing to dialogue with Cayetano for the resumption of the budget deliberations.
"I’m always open to anything that will actually pass the budget and tanggalin itong kaguluhan sa Kongreso."
NOT THROWING IN THE TOWEL
Velasco said Cayetano's camp moved to suspend session "because he does not have the numbers" to keep himself in the post.
He also believes that because of what transpired, he gained even more support from his colleagues.
"We have majority of the congressmen supporting us. At alam mo naman sa Kongreso, the majority always rules. We are in a democracy," he said.
Pressed if he still believes it is worth fighting for the leadership post, Velasco answered in the affirmative.
"We have to show the public na pag may salita tayo, tinutupad natin ito. We are called ‘Honorables’ because we keep our honor. Kailangan, pag nagbibitiw tayo ng salita, tinutupad natin," he said.
(We have to show the public that when we give word, we make good of it. We are called 'Honorables' because we keep our honor. When we make promises, we have to keep it.)
Asked if there will be surprises on Oct. 14, Velasco said: "Let’s see what the will of the majority will say. I always follow the will of the majority. Let's wait."