All’s well as House speakership squabble ends; Duterte accepts Cayetano’s apology

Published October 14, 2020, 11:26 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

All is well as President Duterte is expected to accept the apology of former House Speaker Alan Cayetano following the end of the leadership conflict in the lower chamber, according to a Palace official.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte strikes his signature pose with former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said such an apology will be accepted just like a father accepts an apology from a son.

Cayetano had earlier apologized to the President for having misunderstood that the Chief Executive wanted him to complete the budget deliberations before stepping down as part of a term-sharing pact with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the newly elected Speaker.

“According to Sen Bong Go, he was like a father, so, of course, a father would accept an apology from a son and all is well that ends well,” Roque said over CNN Philippines Wednesday.

“Congressmen Cayetano apologized to the President. He apparently misunderstood the mandate of the President. He thought that the term-sharing agreement will be effective after the passage of the budget,” he said.

Cayetano was forced out of power after House members declared the top post vacant and elected Velasco as the new speaker at a sports club in Quezon City on Monday. Velasco formally took over the reins of the House leadership after his election was ratified by the members of the lower chamber the next day.

The President met with Velasco and Cayetano Tuesday noon shortly after the leadership change at the Lower House.

In the meeting, Roque said the President expressed appreciation for their cooperation to pass the national budget during their meeting.

“According to Senator Bong Go, the President was like a father to both Speaker Velasco and to Congressman Cayetano and the two of them reiterated their support,” he said.

He said Velasco and Cayetano have vowed their continued support for the administration during the meeting with the President. “Both parties are still with the majority. Both parties are ever supportive of the President and there is now one simple big majority in the house in favor or in support of the administration,” he said.

With the leadership issue settled, the President said lawmakers can now focus on the approval of the national budget for next year.

“The President, of course, was very appreciative of the cooperation of both parties and he appreciated the fact that Congress is now focusing on the budget because that has been his call from the very beginning, to pass the 2021 budget,” Roque said.

Asked what prompted Duterte to meet with the two lawmakers Tuesday, Roque said he could only assume that the President thought the impasse would not be avoided without his intervention. The situation, however, was resolved by the time the lunch meeting took place, he added.

“But fortunately before the meeting, the two aspirants for speaker had already come to an agreement that Speaker Cayetano submitted an irrevocable resignation, and the House ratified the election of Speaker Velasco,” he said.

“By the time they came to the President, the situation had already been fixed. There was already a new speaker of the House. So in Malacanang, it was a matter of both Congressman Cayetano and Speaker Velasco reiterating their support to the administration of President Duterte,” he said.