MANILA — Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano resigned Tuesday as House Speaker after lawmakers formally installed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as their new leader at the Batasang Pambansa.
During a Facebook live outside his residence in Taguig, Cayetano said it was time to unite Congress.
"Under the bridge. Let's unite Congress. The institution is important, it is the institution of democracy. Tayo'y irrelevant, napapalitan tayo pero 'yung institution nand'yan. Congress is not only an institution but a symbol. So kapag binaboy natin ang Kongreso, binaboy din po natin ang ating bansa," Cayetano said.
(Lawmakers could be replaced but the institution is there. If we bastardize Congress, we bastardize our country.)
Cayetano had first resigned on Sept. 30, at the cusp of the leadership change, but his House colleagues rejected it in a highly-charged session. No one at the plenary stopped him when he resigned again via social media on Tuesday.
Citing the 2021 budget, Cayetano had insisted on overstaying as Speaker until December despite a term-sharing agreement with Velasco that was to see him as the chamber's chief until this month.
He also underestimated Velasco's numbers if it came to a vote, cited his absences in the House, and said the younger lawmaker was going to make the chamber a "rubber stamp" of the executive-drafted 2021 National Expenditure Program, instead of scrutinizing it.
In his Facebook live, Cayetano, President Rodrigo Duterte's failed 2016 running mate, lamented that lawmakers and allies of the chief executive in the lower chamber have been divided.
"Ang Congress po, masyado nang nahahati. Parehong allies po ng Presidente. Ang natutuwa lang po ay ang oposisyon... Ang sa akin lang po ang gusto ko lang ay ang checks and balance," he said.
(Congress has been divided. The only people happy are those belonging in the opposition. I only wanted checks and balances.)
He also apologized if he misunderstood what the President wanted, and said he knew for a fact that he was supposed to give the reins to Velasco in November after passing next year’s national budget in the House.
The ousted Speaker reiterated that what's more important to him was the passage of the 2021 national budget.
“Ang pagkaalam ko po talaga, I was to handle the budget. I was told until matapos ‘yong budget para walang disruption... and I invited Cong. Velasco to join me. So Mr. President, if I made a mistake, mali ang reading ko, misunderstood ko na gusto mo ituloy at tapusin ko ang budget, ako ay humihingi ng paumanhin. Hindi ko intention, ever na hindi ka sundin,”
(I was told I was to handle the budget until its passage in the House. So, Mr. President if I read it wrong, and I misunderstood that you wanted me to finish the budget deliberations, I apologize. It’s not my intention to not follow you.)
The President had to give a public address last week amid the House leadership toss-up to plead for lawmakers to prioritize the 2021 budget.
Cayetano thanked Duterte for his "experience" as a foreign affairs secretary and as Speaker under his administration.
"Pinakamataas na ratings ng House. Halos lahat po ng importanteng (batas) naipasa. In fact, marami dito ay pending na po sa Senado. Kita niyo po 'yung trabaho. Hindi po kami nagtago noong [may] COVID-19."
(The House had high ratings. Almost all of the important laws were passed and most of it are already pending in the Senate. We did our jobs. We did not hide during the outbreak of COVID-19.)
Some 186 lawmakers voted to ratify Velasco's election as Speaker on Tuesday following Monday's election at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, which Cayetano and his allies rejected.
Velasco assumed the position as the chamber resumed budget deliberations after the President certified it as urgent.
Cayetano said it is time for him to hold Velasco to his word of honor.
“Palabra de honor ang masusunod. Rep. Velasco, you held me up to my palabra de honor, I am now holding you up [to it],” he said.
(The word of honor should be followed.)
“I will help quietly, I will help 'yung mga constituents natin in any way…. Hindi tayo magiging balakid… Mali ang intindi ko, that's on me and not on the President.”
(I will help our constituents in any way. We won’t be a hindrance. I misunderstood what the President wants. That’s on me and not on the President.)