Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday there was an attempt to oust him from his position.
“The personality behind the move to oust me is already promising committee chairmanships and budget allocations to those who will join him,” Cayetano told reporters during the Lani Scholarship Distribution event in Taguig City.
He implied it was Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, his original rival for the speakership, who was behind the plot.
Velasco, who is set to take over the House speakership in October, dismissed Cayetano’s allegation as “baseless.”
“These reports are far from the truth. The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte administration,” Velasco said.
“Up to this day, I continue to honor the term-sharing agreement brokered by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte when the 18th Congress convened in July 2019. From the beginning, I never had any intention of reneging on this agreement,” he added.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said President Rodrigo Duterte will not interfere in the internal affairs of the House of Representatives following Cayetano’s claim.
Duterte would only meddle on matters concerning the Congress if lawmakers will ask him to “intercede in their behalf,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“Again, the President does not interfere. We’re repeatedly saying that. That’s the internal affair of the Congress. He will not interfere unless you ask him to settle whatever rift they have if there is any,” Panelo told reporters.
At the start of the current Congress, Cayetano and Velasco were the strongest rivals for the speakership, and it took Duterte to broker an agreement under which Cayetano was supposed to sit for the first 15 months and Velasco for the remaining 21 months.
But Velasco’s supporters thought Cayetano would not honor the gentleman’s agreement brokered by Duterte, and this may have prompted them to advise Velasco to launch the ouster campaign, Cayetano said.
However, Cayetano said Velasco was expected to deny that such a plot existed when confronted, saying: “It’s normal that when they were found out, they deny.”
“But unless about 20 congressmen are lying to me that he promised them committee chairmanships, and said “next year, it’s my budget, I will dictate who the recipients will be,’” Cayetano quoted his informant congressmen as telling him.
“I don’t think those 20 congressmen will sow at the same time, but don’t worry I don’t take it personally.”
The fact that Velasco promised chairmanships prompted Cayetano to think that Velasco had a hand in hastening his replacement as Speaker.
Cayetano said he would honor the gentleman’s agreement on the speakership term.
“I’ve always said when it comes to the leadership issue, I will abide by the decision reached in his presence, so he [Velasco] has nothing to worry about,” Cayetano said. With MJ Blancaflor