Pulong refuses to choose between Alan Peter, Lord

Published October 8, 2020, 10:28 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Torn between two Speakers, feeling confused.

Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Duterte (KEITH BACONGCO / MANILA BULLETIN)

This sums up the situation presidential son and Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Duterte finds himself in as he sees the “war” between the camps of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Speaker-in-waiting Lord Allan Velasco unfold.

“For a year and a half, I have formed many friendships in the 18th Congress. Of these, two of those that I treasure most are those with Speaker Alan Cayetano and Congressman Lord Velasco,” Rep. Duterte said in a statement.

A source told the Manila Bulletin Thursday morning that ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Eric Yap, a close friend of the Davao solon posted it on one of the House members’ Viber threads.

In the statement, Rep. Duterte noted how the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) and Velasco (Marinduque) has left the House of Representatives “mired in what seems to be a battle between two people I’m close with.”

“It can’t be denied that such a term-sharing agreement was made before. Because of this, Congressman Velasco has the right to assert his claim to the Speakership. However, we have also seen that a considerable number of our colleagues still support Speaker Cayetano,” said “Pulong.”

“As I am all for a unified House, and given the value I place in every member of Congress, I refuse to make any statement that will favor or damage either of my two good friends who are both asserting their right to be our Speaker,” he added.

Last September 30, Cayetano offered to resign as Speaker before the plenary supposedly to let his rival Velasco take over right then and there. However, 184 House members voted to reject this offer via a nominal vote.

Velasco insisted that the turnover for the Speakership take place on October 14, the date supposedly approved by no less than President Duterte in a bid to have the term-sharing pact honored.

The House leadership under Cayetano has since called for an early suspension of sessions, meaning there won’t be an active plenary by October. This was allegedly meant to pull the rug under Velasco.

A separate source said Rep. Duterte–one of the deputy speakers in the current 18th Congress–came up with the Viber statement following a request from Velasco to “campaign” in his behalf to gain the Speakership.

However, the Davao solon decided to stay neutral.

“I am saddened that it has come to this —a House divided. And if we remain a House divided, we will fail in our mandate to serve the people as their representatives,” Rep. Duterte said.

He then switched his tone by yearning for a uniting force in the Lower Chamber.

“If and when the day comes that we are called to select the leader of this House, I hope we vote for someone who is committed, who understands what we want to achieve for our constituents, and who can fight for and with us, and unify the 300 members of this House of Representatives despite our many difference,” Rep. Duterte said.

“And when we do make that decision, I hope we can find it in our hearts to vote for someone, not just for convenience or affiliation, but whom we feel strongly can represent the House with the dignity that it deserves,” he further said.