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Here’s What’s Going on in the House of Representatives Right Now

According to Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the agreement on term sharing must be honored by Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Back in 2019, after the mid-term elections, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that two representatives in Congress will be sharing the House Speakership for the rest of their terms. The two congressmen, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, have agreed to share the Speaker of the House position as they both have expressed their intention to take on the position if they win in the elections.

President Duterte honored the agreement saying, “That is their privilege actually. I was just trying to end up the impasse.” He adds that all the congressmen have to do is to ensure that the lower house is free of corruption and illegal doings, and he will let them have the independence to share terms or vote for their chosen Speaker.

It has been relatively quiet in the past months, but a few weeks ago, the issue of term-sharing in the lower house has been put in the spotlight once again. This is because there seems to be a conflict between the two representatives who were meant to be sharing the post. (LIST: The Government Officials Who Resigned From Their Posts This Year)

Planned Coup

house-speaker-term-sharing
Photo from Martin San Diego / Rappler

According to Rep. Cayetano, he received information that Rep. Velasco and his camp planned two coups to remove him from the position. This is why Cayetano says he should walk away from the agreement, said Sta. Rosa, Laguna representative Dan Fernandez. “Those groups wanted to make the leadership, especially Speaker, to look bad especially in the eyes of the President,” Rep. Fernandez added.

However, Rep. Velasco denied these claims and said that they should honor the agreement which the president is also knowledgeable of and agreed to. Honoring the agreement would mean following the 15-21 term sharing condition. The first term, served by Cayetano, will end on September 30, and the second term, to be served by Velasco, will begin right after and end by 2022.

But up until now, October 7, Cayetano is still serving as the House Speaker—extending his term for more than a week already. (LIST: The Loans Signed by PH Government for COVID-19 Response)

Meeting with the President

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President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep Lord Allan Velasco. (Photo from Malacañang photo / Rappler)

To settle the issue, Cayetano and Velasco met with President Duterte on September 29 to discuss the impending transfer of power to Rep. Velasco. According to Rep. Salvador Leachon, Velasco’s PDP-Laban party mate, the two congressmen have agreed to the president’s suggestion of giving the position to Velasco by October 14.

“It was the agreement and it was enforced during the time they were discussing among the 3 of them. The question was only as to when, but both parties agreed before the President on October 14,” Rep. Leachon said.

On the other hand, despite agreeing with the president, Cayetano said that it will still be up to his colleagues if they would want a change in leadership or maintain the current one.

‘Dragging Down Congress’

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Buhay Party-list representative Lito Atienza (Photo from GMA Network)

Rep. Cayetano has also fast-tracked the approval of the 2021 budget on its second reading—two days ahead of schedule—which some lawmakers say will “drag down Congress.”

According to Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza, this move by Cayetano will compromise the 2021 budget as “it will all be done in closed doors in private at mag-uusap usap na lang ang mga interesado sa pera.” (Read: 3 Prayers of Guidance and Enlightenment for Government Leaders)

As for the Speakership, Rep. Atienza said that Cayetano “has already closed all doors including the windows and cracks in the walls. He closed everything to arrogate the Speakership for himself, knowing very well that a great number of congressmen are now realizing this man has no word of honor and he has to be removed as he will not step down.”

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