Despite a term sharing deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, the choice of the next Speaker of the House rests with members of the chamber, the Palace said Monday.
On Friday, President Duterte said he would not take offense if his allies in the House did not follow his plan to split the three-year term between Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
“It’s okay with me, that is just my formula,” Duterte said.
Under the deal worked out by the President, Cayetano would serve the first 15 months of the term before handing it off to Velasco, who would serve as Speaker for the next 21 months.
Duterte endorsed Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez, who also sought the top post, as the next House majority leader.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said House members still have the final say despite Duterte’s suggestion of a compromise.
“That’s for the House members to say, not for the President. They sought his help, so he obliged and gave them the formula,” Panelo told the Manila Standard.
Two party-list congressmen on Monday advised Cayetano to keep his cool and not look too excited about assuming the House of Representatives’ top position on July 22.
Even before taking his seat as Speaker, Cayetano ruffled feathers by floating the idea to shorten the terms of senators while extending the terms of local officials.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Manuel Cabotchan said Cayetano should focus on other legislative priorities instead of focusing on constitutional amendments that would suit the vested interests of politicians and some business based in his bailiwick of Taguig.
“If Representative Cayetano pushes through with that [pushing his version of Charter amendments], I think these will not be acceptable to the people because it will look like Congress is more interested in pushing the self-serving measures and creating divisiveness among lawmakers,” Cabotchan said.
He added that Cayetano must be able to maintain a harmonious and good working relationship with senators so as to speed up the approval of measures in the President’s legislative agenda.
“The House leadership should instead work on the legislative plan for the 18th Congress and focus on measures that would have long term impact on the lives of the people. Naturally, fostering a good working relationship among the members of Congress is imperative in achieving this goal,” he said.
Over the weekend, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate slammed Cayetano for selling the idea to extend the term limit of elected local officials to four years.
Zarate dismissed Cayetano’s plan as “self-serving.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III played down Cayetano’s threat to shorten the term of senators.
“How can you give what is not yours?” he asked.
The tenure and term of senators are specified in the Constitution, Sotto said.
“I would like to think that congressman Cayetano said that in jest,” he added.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, slammed Cayetano for his seeming refusal to speak of respecting an “authentic” minority leader in the House.
“This selective and discriminatory stance augurs the anointment by the supermajority of the next minority leader, a practice reminiscent of the 17th Congress where the leader of the so-called opposition was twice handpicked by the House leadership,” Lagman said.
Lagman said Cayetano’s rejection of a possible minority leader and the accommodation of a favored one is installing a “company union” in disguise. With Macon Ramos-Araneta