What happened to your word of honor, congressmen Joey Salceda (Albay) and Conrado Estrella III (ABONO Party-List)?
An upset Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano asked this question to the two House leaders through members of the media Monday as he learned of their key participation in the session of pro-Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco solons at Celebrity Sports Plaza that same day.
During this outside-of-plenary session, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Salceda and Deputy Speaker Estrella helped unseat Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) and install Velasco as the new House Speaker.
Cayetano said he had a “heart-to-heart talk” with Salceda prior to Monday’s events. “Sabi ko (I said), ‘Joey, we are friends.’ Sabi niya (He said), ‘Yes sir.’ So sabi ko (So I said), ‘Are you for me, or against me?'”
“‘We are friends,'” Cayetano said, quoting the Bicolano.
“So sabi ko (So I said), ‘That’s why. If you tell me you are not for me, friends pa rin tayo dahil pulitika lang naman ito. Speakership lang naman ito (We’re still friends because this is just politics. This is just the Speakership). But if you are for me, I have to know (because) I have to make plans (on the 2021) national budget at isasama ko siya sa small group na magmi-meet ngayon (and I will include him in the meeting of the small group today).'”
“So siya pala ang nagli-lead sa kabila. So nasaan ang palabra de honor? Pwede naman niya ako tawagan, ‘Sorry Speaker, nandito na ako kay Cong Velasco (So he’s the one leading the other camp. So where’s the word of honor? He could’ve called me and said, ‘Sorry Speaker, I’m with Cong Velasco now),'” the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker said.
“Palabra de honor” or word of honor has been a catchphrase used in the past few weeks by Velasco and his allies in the word war against the Cayetano camp, since they’ve accused the sitting Speaker of purposely dishonoring their term-sharing agreement for the House’s top post.
Another solon singled out by Cayetano for ultimately siding with Velasco was Estrella, who in the 18th Congress had been given a rare privilege by the House leadership as a deputy speaker from the party-list ranks.
“He was in my office the other day, he was telling me all the plans nung kabila (of the other camp),” the Speaker said.
“He was telling me, ‘Speaker, masisira ang Kongreso na ‘to. Speaker, matagal na tayong magkasama, hindi ako papayag. Pulitika OK lang, pero hindi ako papayag na ganito ang mangyari (Speaker, this Congress will be ruined. Speaker, we’ve been together for a long time, I won’t allow this. Politics is OK, but I won’t allow this to happen),'” Cayetano recalled Estrella saying regarding the pro-Velasco solons’ coup plot.
“So nasaan ang palabra de honor ni Cong Estrella kung ganun ang kanyang ginagawa? (So where is Cong Estrella’s palabra de honor based on what he is doing?)” he asked.
Some 186 House members voted in favor of Velasco’s speakership during the country club session.