Cayetano resigns as Speaker, but House rejects it in voice vote

Published September 30, 2020, 4:57 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano announced his resignation as Speaker Wednesday afternoon, only for it to be rejected by his House colleagues.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano did so in a privilege speech on the plenary floor amid the House of Representatives’ debates on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

Cayetano’s speech took place less than 24 hours after he took part in a meeting with President Duterte and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, in Malacañang.

Immediately after Cayetano ended his speech, Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor manifested that he rejects the offer of resignation. He turned it into a motion shortly after.

The motion was carried by presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu following a voice vote (ayes and nayes). Defensor subsequently moved for nominal or individual voting, to put the matter beyond question.

But Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Barbers says this isn’t needed anymore since no “nay” votes were registered even from the House members on Zoom. Defensor agreed.

Abu subsequently ruled that in order to avoid questions from the lawmakers, a nominal vote would be carried out on whether or not the plenary rejects Cayetano’s offer of resignation. The vote is ongoing as of posting time.

“What Velasco did last night makes it impossible for me to finish the budget. If our colleagues want you (Velasco) to take over today, ikaw na. I’m offering my resignation here and now,” Cayetano said.

Earlier Wednesday, Velasco’s backers in the House, Oriental Mindoro 1st district Rep. Doy Leachon and BUHAY Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza mentioned October 14 as the “turnover date” for the Speakership.

The date was reportedly approved by the President, who called for the Tuesday meeting specifically to iron out the Speakership issue between his two allies in the Lower Chamber.

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.

The results of the nominal vote are as follows: 184 voted “yes” to reject the resignation, ergo they want Cayetano to remain as Speaker; one voted “no,” while nine abstained from voting.

The session ended with a motion from Defensor to suspend the plenary budget deliberations until October 2. The motion was carried.

A resignation provides no line of succession for the Speakership; a vote must take place to fil in the vacated position. It is not clear if the position is deemed vacated amid the ongoing nominal voting.

Velasco must win a plenary vote to fully consummate the term-sharing deal.

Cayetano enjoys the support of at least 202 out of the 299 sitting House members based on a manifesto that surfaced over the weekend.