MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the apology of ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for a protracted leadership battle that threatened to delay the passage of a P4.5 trillion budget vital to rebuilding the country's battered economy, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Cayetano, in a meeting with Duterte on Tuesday, apologized for thinking that he should stay as Speaker until the 2021 national budget is passed, contrary to a term-sharing deal in which he should resign as Speaker this month to give way to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Duterte, during the meeting in Malacañang, was "like a father to both" lawmakers, Roque said, quoting Sen. Christopher Bong Go who was there.
"Of course, a father would accept apology from a son. All is well that ends well," Roque told CNN Philippines.
Velasco on Tuesday replaced Cayetano as Speaker with support from 186 of the 299-member lower house, ahead of a 4-day special session that Duterte called to finalize the 2021 budget that included funds for the coronavirus pandemic.
Cayetano and Velasco "agreed to work together" when they faced Duterte, Roque said.
"The President was very appreciative of the cooperation of both parties and he appreciated the fact that Congress is now focusing on the budget because that has been his call from the very beginning," he said.
"There is still one very strong and very big majority party in support of the administration of President Duterte and of course the President is very appreciative of this," he added.
Duterte, 75, faces the enormous task of pulling the Philippine economy, which before the coronavirus pandemic was one of Asia's fastest-growing, out of recession and creating work for millions left jobless.
The Philippines is forecast to see a 6.9 percent economic contraction this year, the World Bank has said, the biggest since the 1980s and worse than the government's projected 5.5 percent decline.
Its recovery has been constrained by an unrelenting first wave of infections since March, with more than 340,000 cases, Southeast Asia's highest number, limiting its ability to fully reopen businesses, internal travel and restart domestic and international tourism.
- With a report from Reuters