What term-sharing agreement?
Deputy Speaker Mandaluyong City lone district Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said in a virtual press conference Wednesday afternoon that as far as the majority of the House members are concerned, the term-sharing agreement between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and rival Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is no longer in effect.
Gonzales was asked in the presser why the House leadership opted to suspend sessions on Tuesday, October 6–eight days before the supposed turnover of the chamber’s top post from Cayetano to Velasco.
The Velasco camp has claimed that this move was designed to deny the Marinduque solon of his assumption of the Speakership via the term-sharing pact forged last year.
“Yung sinasabi nila na bakit hindi hinintay (Their claim that we decided not to wait)…what for? Because as far as we are concerned, when Speaker Alan Cayetano offered to resign, and his resignation was rejected by more than a majority of all the members of the House, that is, as far as we are concerned, a fresh mandate,” Gonzales said.
Last September 30, Cayetano offered to resign as Speaker before the plenary supposedly to let Velasco take over right then and there. However, 184 House members voted to reject this offer via a nominal vote.
“Wala nang pinag-uusapan as far as we are concerned. Wala nang pinag-uusapang term-sharing dito (As far as we are concerned, there is no more term-sharing to talk about),” added Gonzales.
These statements echo a previous comment from Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez (Laguna, 1st district), another Cayetano ally, that the term-sharing deal had been “consummated” by virtue of the September 30 plenary vote.
However, Gonzales’s comments gave more weight to this argument as he spoke from his experience as a former three-time Majority Floor Leader and Committee on Rules chairman.
“As far as we are concerned, we have the numbers, na-reject na yung term-sharing agreement (the term-sharing agreement was rejected), si Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was given a fresh mandate. So if we are to follow the rules, there is only one way of unseating Speaker Alan and that is not to insist on the term-sharing agreement but to file the appropriate motion sa floor. Which is to declare vacant the position of the Speaker and have the support of the majority of the members of the House,” the veteran House official said.
Gonzales, along with fellow Cayetano supporters Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte (Camarines Sur 2nd district) and Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor, expressed their doubts during the presser if Velasco truly had a majority backing in the House.
Villafuerte went as far as to give a generous estimate of 75 as to how many House members he thinks back Velasco’s Speakership bid.
Gonzales, pointing to the Velasco camp, added: “Sila na lang ang nag-iinsist ng term-sharing because hindi sila nakaupo (They are the ones insisting on the term-sharing because they aren’t the ones in power).”
President Duterte brokered the term-split between his allies Cayetano and Velasco last year in order to prevent the administration coalition from splintering.