MANILA - The House of Representatives mace being used in a meeting of lawmakers backing the Speakership bid of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is not the official one, a House official said Monday.
House Sergeant at Arms Ramon Apolinario said the official mace of the chamber was in his custody. "That is not the official mace," he said of the mace at the plaza.
A version of the House mace, the symbol of the authority of the chamber which should be present during sessions, was seen at the Celebrity Sports Plaza where pro-Velasco lawmakers are gathering.
According to the official website of the House of Representatives, the Mace of the House is a "symbol of authority, which is displayed at the foot of the Speaker's Rostrum whenever the House is in session."
It also serves as the "warrant for the Sergeant-at-Arms in enforcing order in the House upon instruction of the Speaker."
Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales II said sessions of the House of Representatives are suspended until November 16, "and there is no authority from Plenary to reconvene today."
"Unlike in the Batangas Session, there is no plenary Resolution authorizing to hold session in any other place other than in the Plenary in Batasan, contrary to the Constitution."
"All the maces, old and official, are currently in the possession and safekeeping of the Sgt-at-Arms. These prove that what they are doing is clearly a rump and illegal session where the Rules of the House will not apply and can not be used," he said in a statement.
FIGHT FOR SPEAKERSHIP
At least 187 lawmakers have reportedly backed a manifesto declaring the Speakership vacant, a day before a special session would be convened for the passage of the 2021 budget. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said 167 lawmakers have signed the manifesto.
Of the 187, some 50 lawmakers are members of dominant political party PDP-Laban which earlier expressed its support to honor the term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, according to Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez.
"In a democracy, it’s always the game of numbers that dictates. We got the majority, time is up, it’s time to go," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo as he was arriving at the venue.
"Everyone is converging here, sabi nga (they say) 'All roads lead to Celebrity Sports Plaza' ngayong umagang ito (this morning).
Members of President Rodrigo Duterte's political party did not participate in the House vote that rejected Cayetano's resignation offer, Martinez said.
"We did not participate at that kind of proceedings because for us it’s the 15-21 (term-sharing agreement), and for us...Oct 14 ang timeline namin (is our timeline) so they breached the agreement again," he said.
"I think one of the turning points really is honor that 15-21 term sharing agreement. Nung sinimulan 'yan (When it began) everyone agreed to that a year ago."