MANILA – Declaring the Speakership post vacant requires majority vote of all members of the House of Representatives wherever they have agreed to convene, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said Monday.
"Yung venue, traditionally, normally, it will be in the halls of our Batasang Pambansa, it will be in the halls of Senate. But puwede naman, 'pag nag-usap-usap, nag-agree ang majority of all of the members of the House, puwede ho namang magdaos ng session outside of the traditional venue," IBP national president Domingo Cayosa told ABS-CBN"s TeleRadyo after Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco was installed as House Speaker by 186 of his colleagues at a gathering in the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
Velasco has a term-sharing deal for the Speakership with Taguig-Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano during the 18th Congress. Under the agreement forged last year by President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano is to serve during the first 15 months, which ends this month, while Velasco takes over for the remaining 21 months, or until 2022.
Cayetano refused to honor the deal, claiming majority of the 299 members of the chamber support his leadership.
Cayosa said any contender for the Speakership must have the votes of majority of all members of the House.
Section 13 of the Rules of the House of Representatives states that “a vacancy is created whenever any of the officers dies, resigns, or is permanently incapacitated, or when the House declares any office vacant.”
It stated further that "the position of Speaker may only be declared vacant through nominal voting by a majority vote of all the Members."
"Whenever there is a vacancy, the Speaker shall be elected by a majority vote of all the Members," according to Section 11 of the Rules.
Conducting remote session in the absence of an official mace, which is the symbol of the authority of the chamber, is also not irregular, Cayosa said. He said the mace was just used for formalities.
“Ang pinakamahalaga sa isang deliberative, collegial political body ay majority. Kasi ‘yun ang rule. Majority prevails in this political body,” he added.
(The most important thing in a deliberative, collegial political body is majority. That’s the rule. Majority prevails in this political body.)
Amid intramural squabbles in the lower chamber, the IBP president urged lawmakers to put the public’s interest first instead of their personal ambitions.
“Sana unahin nila ‘yung interest ng bansa kasi napakahalaga no’ng budget, lalong-lalo na ngayon mayroon tayong pandemya, meron tayong economic recession, ang daming problema, kulang-kulang na ang pera ng gobyerno, lubog na tayo sa utang… Dapat ‘yun ang kanilang pag-ukulan ng pansin,” he said.
(I hope they should prioritize the country’s interest because the budget is important, especially now we are in a pandemic, we have an economic recession, there are too many problems, the government’s money is not enough, we are drowned in debt… That’s where they should focus on.)
Velasco's installation as the presumptive Speaker happened a day before Congress convenes for a special session to resume deliberations on the next year's spending bill.