Cayetano: Vaccines, rising prices, not Chacha, should be priority

Published January 23, 2021, 9:19 PM

by Ben Rosario

An end to rising prices of prime commodities and ensuring the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos, not Charter change, should be the main concerns and priorities of the House of Representatives, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Saturday, Jan. 23.

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano

Interviewed by reporters in Cavite, Cayetano also appealed for an end to political retribution, saying that it is too early to engage in politicking.

Cayetano’s reaction to reporters’ questions is clearly directed towards Speaker Lord Allan Velasco who succeeded him as speaker after a bitter fight over the top House post last year.

Velasco is behind the renewed bid to amend the 1987 Constitution in Congress. 

The recent sacking of Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte from vice chairmanship post was also blamed on Velasco.

“Hindi madali sa amin, lalo kakampi namin ang adminisrasyon na mangalampag, lalo ‘pag may mga issues.  Pero katulad naman siguro noong sa Chacha lahat naman siguro kayo mag-agree na unahin natin ang bakuna at iyong taas ng presyo kaysa doon sa Chacha. (It is not easy for us allies of the administration to complain whenever there are issues.  But I believe you will agree that vaccines and rising prices must come first over Chacha),” said Cayetano.

The former speaker lamented that Defensor and former Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu have become victims of political vendetta in the chamber.

Defensor was stripped of the chairmanship of the House Committee on Public Accounts.  This happened after the Velasco leadership sacked one-by-one nearly all of Cayetano’s close allies.

However, the partylist solon lost vice chairmanship positions in at least five committees, apparently for criticizing Velasco’s leadership during a recent press conference.

Abu belonged to the first batch of pro-Cayetano solons who absorbed the new leadership’s wrath.  However, his replacement as deputy speaker, Las Pinas Rep. Camille Villar, declined her appointment.

Cayetano said both Defensor and Abu are among the most hardworking members of the Lower House who did not deserve their fate.

However, Deputy Speaker and Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza defended the decision of the current House leadership, stressing that sacking Villafuerte and Defensor was a direct “consequence” of their alleged “vicious attacks” against Velasco and the current leaders of the Lower House.

“The two cannot cry foul especially when they said they’ve lost faith in the present House leadership,” Atienza said. 

On the other hand, Velasco underscored the significance of taking steps at amending the Constitution, saying that the timing to do it is now.

Velasco vowed to allow only amendments to the restrictive economic provisions of the Charter.