Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano delivered a privilege speech Wednesday afternoon wherein he taunted his rival, Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for his lack of supporters in the House of Representatives.
“Let me clarify Mr. President, he (Velasco) needs to get the votes,” Cayetano said, recalling what he told President Duterte the previous night when the three met in Malacañang to settle the speakership issue.
“Sabi ko (I said), ‘Mr. President let me explain. Under the Constitution, you need a majority of all members to be elected Speaker. So I can step aside. But I cannot guarantee he will be elected,'” Cayetano said.
“In fact I will make a fearless forecast: Hindi siya mananalo (He will not win). If I step aside, mananalo siya (he will win), after one week, maku-kudeta siya (he will be ousted via a coup d’etat). Bakit? Maraming popular sa Kongreso eh (Why? They are a lot of popular people in Congress),” added the Taguig-Pateros solon.
Cayetano and Velasco have a term-sharing agreement for the chamber’s top post. Under this deal, which Duterte himself brokered last year, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will finish the remaining 21 months at the chamber’s helm.
According to Cayetano, Velasco insisted to Duterte that the turnover must take place on October 14.
“Mr. President walang supporter yan (Cayetano), ako may numero (Mr. President he has no supporters, I have the numbers),” Cayetano quoted Velasco as saying during the meeting.
“Sabi ko, ‘Pare sandali lang ha, mas may numero sa iyo si Martin.’ Pero hindi yun ang pinag-uusapan (I said, ‘Hold it compadre, Martin has more numbers than you.’ But that’s not what we’re talking about),” Cayetano said, referring to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
Romualdez, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) party president, was also a strong contender for the Speakership before the start of the current 18th Congress. He ended up accepting the Majority Leader’s role as part of the term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco.
The Taguig-Pateros solon further claimed that even to Velasco’s friends in the chamber, his prospective Speakership is “a question mark.”
Cayetano offered to resign as Speaker at the end of his speech, but this was rejected by the House plenary in both a voice vote and a nominal vote.
Over the weekend, some 202 out of the 299 members of the House expressed their desire for the continued Speakership of Cayetano in a manifesto of support.