MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte and the leadership of PDP-Laban urge lawmakers to honor the term-sharing agreement between House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the dominant political party of which the chief executive is a member said Sunday.
The statement comes after Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, on Friday met with Velasco, who is also a member of PDP-Laban.
Under the “gentleman's agreement” that Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano was to hand over the reins of the House of Representatives to Velasco after 15 months, which counts to October this year. Velasco, then, will serve for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.
"PRRD, Mayor Sara, the entire PDP Laban Leadership are fully supporting (sic) of the Gentleman's agreement brokered by no less (than) the leader of the Admin Coalition and our PDP Laban Chairman President Duterte," the party said in a statement.
"For the PDP-Laban, the Party's stand remains unchanged for 15 months and can be summarized in 3 words: HONOR THE AGREEMENT," it added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque however said on Sunday that the President is not taking sides in the House Speakership fight and wants partisanship set aside so that the 2021 budget can be passed on time.
The issue of the Speakership will be discussed after the chamber's passage of the 2021 budget on Friday, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said.
"The Budget before politics. Let us pass the national budget as
requested by the President for 2021 on third and final reading on
Friday, October 16," Romualdez said in a statement.
"Politics such as the Speakership issue will be tackled after the passage of the national budget to assure a smooth transition," he said.
Duterte-Carpio has endorsed Velasco as the next Speaker "anytime this week but without interruption on the budget deliberation," his ally Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador "Doy" Leachon said in a statement.
"Besides, she believes that parties to the term-sharing agreement must be gentleman enough to comply," Leachon said.
"Non-adherence to agreement is a defiance to (her) father, as I perceive any daughter would feel, and we can’t deny it because there can be no interpretation other than that," he added.
"It just fortifies the earlier statement of the brother of Mayor Sara, Cong. Pulong (Paolo) Duterte, that Cong. Velasco has a right to assert his claim to the Speakership based on the gentleman’s agreement."
Amid claims he is supposed to give way to Velasco on Oct. 14 after they met with Duterte last Sept. 29 regarding the Speakership row, Cayetano said he has the support of majority of lawmakers in the chamber.
On Sept. 30, Cayetano offered to resign but majority of lawmakers voted to reject it.
On Oct. 6, he terminated the debates on the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget after it was passed on 2nd reading, and suspended the sessions of the House until Nov. 16.
The move elicited worries about the passage of the budget, a significant portion of which is for the government's response to the health and economic crises.
Duterte last week certified the proposed 2021 national budget bill as urgent as he appealed to lawmakers to refrain from any political "play" that would imperil its approval as the country battled the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said lawmakers would scrutinize the appropriations bill to prevent "another railroaded budget."
"Though the abrupt termination of the budget deliberations took away several important days, this resumption should be maximized by the House. It should not be made as another venue or arena of the never ending war of dominance by the protagonists in the speakership battle," he said.
"Also, we would not allow and we will be on guard in ensuring that this resumption of session will not be taken advantage of, by Malacañang in paving the way for another railroaded budget, especially that the (General Appropriations Bill) is now certified as an urgent measure."
In 2018, Duterte-Carpio was widely credited for the ouster of then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his replacement by former President and then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The leadership change affected the enactment of the 2019 budget which was delayed by 4 months over lawmakers' wrangling.
The delayed passage of the 2019 budget affected that year's economic growth.