Lunchtime House coup: Who is the real House Speaker now?

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 06:16 PM

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco at a special meeting with members of the House of Representatives at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on October 12, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The months-long power struggle at the House of Representatives peaked lunchtime Monday, after over 180 lawmakers "voted" to vacate the position of Speaker that cleared the way for Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and "ousted" Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • News about Cayetano being ousted circulated Monday morning, after Albay Rep. Joey Salceda told ANC that at least 167 lawmakers have signed a manifesto for Velasco. 
  • Photos of a gathering at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City with their version of the House mace, the symbol of the authority of the chamber which should be present during sessions, were released to the media.
A replica of the House mace at a meeting with allies of Marinduque Rep Lord Allan Velasco to discuss the House leadership at the Celebrity Sports Plaza on October 12, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
  • House Sergeant at Arms Ramon Apolinario then claimed the official mace of the chamber was in his custody. 
  • Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio releases a statement saying her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago wants the term-sharing agreement between Velasco and Cayetano enforced.
  • Velasco shows up at the Celebrity Sports Plaza.
  • Cayetano holds a press briefing at the Batasan Pambansa.
  • "Session" begins at the Celebrity Sports Plaza.
  • Some 186 lawmakers in Celebrity Sports Plaza declare the House Speaker post vacant, saying it was more than the 151 required.
Allies of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco hold a special meeting at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on October 12, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
  • Cayetano refuses to recognize session at the Plaza. "I will not allow you to burn this House down… marami na akong Goliath na kinalaban. You’re in for one hell of a fight."
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano speaks before the budget deliberation at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on October 12, 2020. The embattled Cayetano proceeded with his duties as Speaker even as 186 congressmen met outside the halls of congress to install Lord Allan Velasco as new Speaker.
  • The lawmakers at the Plaza elect new House officials with Mao Aplasca as the Sergeant-at-arms and Jocelia Bighani Sibin as Secretary-General.
  • The lawmakers nominate and elect Velasco as new House Speaker.
  • Velasco takes oath and in a speech thanks President Rodrigo Duterte and his children Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte, along with the President's long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
  • Cayetano ally Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte calls the vote at the Celebrity Sports Plaza "ridiculous." 
  • Villafuerte likewise branded his colleagues' move as "illegal," citing the location of the session and the absence of an "official" House mace. 

"Everything is fake, everything is illegal, everything is unconstitutional. Challenge ko sa kanila: Gawin niyo 'yan sa plenaryo kung may numero kayo. Kung may numero kayo we will accept, kung wala let's all work together to approve the budget. Iyan ang panawagan," he said. 

  • Velasco later disputed this and said there was precedence for House sessions being held outside of Batasan Pambansa.

"Noong nagkaroon tayo ng pagsabog ng Taal Volcano, the whole House went to... Batangas to hold a House session. [I]t’s the same. Under the rules, it is allowed. This wasn’t a sham session," Velasco said.

WHAT'S NEXT

The budget hearing will resume Tuesday, Oct. 13, following President Rodrigo Duterte's instruction to the House of Representatives to conduct a special session. 

Duterte had to intervene to make sure that the country will not operate on a reenacted budget next year, after Cayetano and his allies last week terminated the sessions due to "politics and saboteurs." 

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (left) confers with lawmaker colleague Eric Yap on the sidelines of the budget deliberation at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on October 12, 2020. The embattled Cayetano proceeded with his duties as Speaker even as 186 congressmen met outside the halls of congress to install Lord Allan Velasco as new Speaker.

Cayetano refusing to legitimize the session on Monday that effectively ousted him as House Speaker, all eyes will be on Congress on Tuesday to witness who will preside the special session for the country's pandemic war chest.