Stressing that the on-going leadeship squabble has damaged both the House of Representatives and public interest, indepdent opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday joined the call for Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to honor the term-sharing agreement and “irrevocably resign” his post, notwithstanding his ambition to run as president.
“Cayetano’s obstinately holding on to the Speakership, even as this violates the term-sharing deal, is linked to his ambition to run for President in 2022, which he does not deny,” said Lagman, who represents the first district of Albay.
Lagman, whose opinion on various legislative and national issues is revered in Congress, broke his silence on the on-going squabble for the speakership as he noted that the controversy has started to adversely affect the reputation of the Lower House.
“But I cannot any more remain silent as a Member of the House of Representatives because the unresolved acrimonious leadership issue is damaging both the institution and the public interest,” he said.
He accused Cayetano as being the force behind many “aberrations” in the Lower House that was apparently triggered by his refusal to honor the “gentleman’s term-sharing agreement” with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Among these are the “inordinate railroading of the proposed 2021 national budget with the precipitate termination of the plenary deliberations on the General Appropriation Bill (GAB) [HB No. 7727] “.,
He said House members were not given their right to scrutinize the national budget and debate on it on the plenary because of its abrupt approval on second reading.
The Albay lawmaker said the suspension of the plenary sessions without the consent of the Senate for 40 days is violative of Section 16(5) of Article VI of the Constitution and against Concurrent Resolution No. 11 setting the Calendar of the Congress.
“Consequently, I will not keep my peace and remain a silent bystander, although I am not a partisan, as an independent oppositionist, for or against either of the contenders. Minority and independent Members of the House must not vote for the Majority’s candidate or candidates for Speaker,” he said.
“As far as the majority is concerned, what the President Duterte brokered must not be broken,” Lagman stated.
The “gentleman’s agreement” was proposed by Duterte last year to stop the disintegration of the majority alliance.
According to Lagman all 266 members of the Malacanang-backed majority were all aware of the term-sharing agreement that will give Cayetano 15 months to lead the Lower House and leave Velasco the next 21 months to head it.
“Consequently, members of the supermajority, together with Cayetano, are now irrevocably estopped from reneging on the deal,” the Bicolano solon stressed.
He lamented that despite invoking that it was also agreed upon by them that Velasco will not touch the current House leadership set up, of which the Marinduque solon agreed to observe, Cayetano “himself preempted and torpedoed the agreement.”
The speaker launched this attack against his own words when he initially ousted 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael Romero as deputy speaker. Romero is a staunch Velasco ally.
Subsequently Cayetano also unseated committee chairpersons identified with the Velasco camp. They are: Reps. Sharon Garin, committee on economic affairs; Helen Tan, committee on health and Eric Martinez, committee on youth and sports.