MANILA— Newly-installed House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and his ousted predecessor Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano promised to uphold the supermajority of the President's allies at the House of Representatives, Malacañang said Thursday.
This, following reports that Cayetano, who had sought to stay at the House helm and delay a due term-sharing agreement with Velasco citing the 2021 national budget, could go to the minority following his removal as Speaker.
The two lawmakers, in a meeting with Duterte this week, both said they would stay in the supermajority, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Pareho naman po sila na nangako sa Presidente na magiging isang super majority pa rin sila sa Mababang Kapulungan para nga po tulungan ang administrasyon sa kanilang legislative agenda," he said in a radio interview.
(They both promised to the President that they would still be a supermajority in the lower chamber of Congress to help the administration with its legislative agenda.)
"Buong-buo pa rin po [ang supermajority]," he said.
(The supermajority remains whole.)
Velasco on Tuesday was voted to replace Cayetano as Speaker with support from 186 of the 299-member House, ahead of a 4-day special session called by President Rodrigo Duterte to finalize the 2021 budget. At least 2 lawmakers later said Cayetano and his allies might go to the minority and join a genuine opposition.
Velasco and Cayetano's battle for the Speakership had threatened to delay passage of the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget vital to rebuilding the country's economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte called on Congress to hold a special session from Oct. 13 to 16 for the House to pass the budget, which he certified as urgent. This, after Cayetano, then fighting to hang on to the Speakership, suddenly suspended session until the middle of November after swiftly passing the budget bill without deliberations on Oct. 6.
"Kumpiyansa naman po ang Malacañang na matatapos po iyong third and final reading ng budget sa Kamara dahil nga po nagpapasalamat kami na naisantabi nga po ang pulitika diyan," Roque said.
(Malacañang is confident that the House can finish the budget on third and final reading because the politics there has been set aside, which we thanked them for.)
"Tingin ko naman malinaw po iyan kay Speaker Velasco na kinakailangan talagang maipasa iyan on time at ang sabi nga po ng Senado, para sila ay maka-akto on time ay kinakailangan mapasa iyan by the 16th," he said in a separate television interview.
(I think it is clear with Speaker Velasco that that needs to be passed on time because as the Senate said, they cannot act otherwise and that needs to be passed by the 16th.)
Congress will take a break from Oct. 16 to Nov. 15.
The Senate cannot tackle the spending plan in plenary unless the House passes it first.
If lawmakers fail to pass the 2021 budget by Dec. 31, the government will rely on a reenacted 2020 spending plan, which lacks provisions for programs to address the COVID-19 crisis.