In the end, Magdalo Party-List Rep. Manuel Cabochan III just wanted to get the work done.
Cabochan, a consistent critic of President Duterte, bared on Thursday that he voted for the Speakership of Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Velasco and Duterte are party-mates at Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Arguably, it was Malacañang’s nod–explicit or otherwise–that triggered the transfer of power from erstwhile speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to his rival from Marinduque.
“Yes, I voted for Speaker Velasco,” Cabochan said, replying to a direct question from this reporter.
“As a member of the institution and like many of my colleagues, I wanted to finally settle the issue, put things to order, and go back to work. It was my conscience vote based on the parameters within the confines of Congress,” admitted the solon, who is a neophyte in the current 18th Congress.
An unfortunate victim of the Cayetano-Velasco rivalry was the delay of the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021, also known as House Bill (HB) No.7727. Cayetano, in one of his final acts as Speaker, prematurely terminated plenary discussions on the budget bill, leaving a lot of House members hanging, confused, and frustrated.
“We have seen the institution on the brink of falling apart because of the rift between the contending parties for the Speakership. It has already strained the work of the House of Representatives,” Cabochan said.
The plenary debates on the budget was resumed Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the Lower Chamber upheld Velasco’s election as the new Speaker.
“I hope with the settlement of this issue, there will be no more impediment to the passage of a national budget that is responsive to the needs of the people during the pandemic,” said Cabochan, a former Navy lieutenant.
The Magdalo congressman has carried himself as an “independent” member of the House since the start of the 18th Congress. He abstained from voting eventual Speaker Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros.
Asked if he now considers himself a member of the pro-Duterte majority bloc following his decision to support Velasco, Cabochan said: “I wish to work silently like before, respecting the leadership, supporting measures needed by our people and opposing those I find detrimental.”
“I don’t think anything has changed,” he added.
The camp of Velasco has yet to release the full list of the House members who voted to elect him as Speaker.