It’s all up to House members if they want to elect new Speaker – Cayetano

Published October 29, 2019, 10:54 AM

by Rica Arevalo

By Ellson Quismorio

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is leaving it up to his House colleagues whether or not they would hold another election on the floor to choose his potential successor after 15 months.

House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

This, as some congressman have suggested to elect a new Speaker after Taguig-Pateros representative Cayetano would have used up his 15-month tenure under the 15-21 term-sharing agreement with Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

“Just because you’re happy today, that doesn’t mean you’re happy next week or next month. So trabaho muna tayo then let’s see kung ano will ng Panginoon at kung ano ang gusto ng mga kongresista at that time,” Cayetano said when asked by a reporter Monday on what thought about the possibility of another election for Speaker.

(So let’s work in the meantime and let’s see what God’s will would be and what the congressman would want at that time.)

Cayetano was elected by a vast majority of the 300-member House as the Speaker of the 18th Congress last July 22, the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Before this, Cayetano and Velasco had what can be described as a gentleman’s’ agreement wherein the former would step down after 15 months so that the latter may assume the chamber’s top post for the final 21 months of the 18th Congress.

No less than President Duterte suggested this set-up as a way to keep his House allies from quarreling with each other.

Last week, ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the Committee on Games and Amusements, said the House members could decide to hold another election after the first 15 months of the current Congress.

He also stressed how the 15-21 term-sharing deal didn’t affect him personally.

“Wala namang napirmahan na agreement eh na term-sharing. Ang meron lang tayo nagkaroon tayo ng eleksyon. Yung term-sharing, mayroon silang verbal agreement doon. Hindi naman ako kasama doon eh,” Yap said.

(There was no signed agreement on term-sharing. What happened was we had an election [on the Speakership]. As for term-sharing, they had a verbal agreement on that. I’m not involved in that.)

“Kung magkakaroon ulit ng panibagong botohan, kung sino yung nakikita naming makakapag-lead ng maganda sa Congress, eh ayun ho kung sino ang mananalo sa botohan ulit (If there will be another voting, whoever it is that would lead Congress well will be victorious),” he added.

Yap didn’t specify if Cayetano would be eligible to run for Speaker again under this scenario.

However, having another round of voting for the Speakership down the road would mean that the term-sharing deal was just scribbled in water, since it’s possible for Velasco to lose and thus, his 21-month tenure won’t ever come to pass.

Yap is a close ally of presidential son, Davao City 1st Rep. Paolo Duterte, who weeks before the SONA also flirted with the idea of running for the Speakership himself.

On Monday, Cayetano said he didn’t want to think that the term-sharing deal was off the table since he feels he is “more productive” with an alarm that would go off after his 15th month in office.

However, he opened the door for possible changes that the President himself might bring up.

“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.)