Cayetano ‘open’ to serving full term as Speaker

Published October 28, 2019, 1:45 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Ellson Quismorio 

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano says he’s “open” to serving as House Speaker for the entirety of the 18th Congress, but at the same time claims he’s mentally set to serve only 15 months under his term-sharing pact with Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Newly elected House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano during the opening of the 18th Congress.  (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano 

“[I’m] open to the possibility. Eh kung si Congressman Velasco mismo magsabi sa akin, ‘Ikaw na lang,’ alangan namang pilitin ko pa siya (If Congressman Velasco himself would tell me, ‘You do it instead,’ I won’t convince him otherwise anymore),” Speaker Cayetano told House reporters in a chance interview Monday.

“Tao din tayo (I’m also human), we’re also public servants, and we also believe in our own leadership. How can other people believe in my leadership if I don’t believe in my leadership?” he said.

“Having said that, may leadership din yung tao. May following din yung tao, head din siya ng partido ng ating Pangulo (he has leadership of his own. He also has a following and he is the head of the President’s party), so I have to also respect that,” he added.

The Speakership in the 18th Congress, which began last July, is unprecedented in that it will be subjected to a “15-21” split – at least, according to plan.

Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months, after which Velasco would take over the top spot in the House of Representatives for the final 21 months. President Rodrigo Duterte himself suggested the term-sharing deal as a last-ditch effort to prevent his coalition from splintering.

“It’s my personal choice to follow the President dahil part ako ng coalition at siya ang head ng coalition. I do believe na hindi makikialam [si Duterte] as President, but as head of the coalition, susundin ko ang kanyang directive,” he said.

(It’s my personal choice to follow the President because I’m part of the coalition and he heads the coalition. I do believe [Duterte] won’t meddle as President, but as head of the coalition, I will follow his directive.)

Cayetano said he was “planning for 12 more months” as Speaker, since he already has three months in the bag. “Until that time, mas magandang tutukan yung mga kailangan nating gawin (It’s better to focus on the work at hand).”

“Right now ayoko nang isipin na mayroong pagbabago sa usapan (I don’t want to think there’s a change in the agreement),” he said, referring to the term-split.

“For me, mas productive din ako isipin na after the 15th month (I’m more productive if my mindset is that after the 15th month), I have to say, ‘I’ve done my job,'” Cayetano said.

Speaker Cayetano has made headlines lately for his “record high” trust and approval ratings, which reached 62 percent and 64 percent, respectively based on the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Some House members have since come out to insinuate or flatly say that Cayetano should remain as the Speaker for the rest of the 18th Congress because of his strong performance.

“Hindi ko mapipigilan ang ibang kongresista na mag-express ng kanilang suporta at kanilang kagustuhan kung paano pinapatakbo ang Kongreso ngayon. Ako, I’m very proud of the 18th Congress. Having said that, mayroon kaming usapan at hindi naman binabago ng Pangulo yan,” Cayetano said.

(I can’t stop other congressman from expressing their support or their preferences on how to run the chamber. Me, I’m very proud of the 18th Congress. Having said that, we have an agreement and the President isn’t changing it.)