Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would win by a landslide if members of the House of Representatives were to vote on who should occupy the top congressional post, a staunch supporter said Sunday.
Interviewed over Dobol B sa News TV, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said if President Rodrigo Duterte would not announce his choice for speaker and lawmakers were to vote, Cayetano would emerge as the leader of the House.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said he believed the President still wants Cayetano to stay on as speaker.
“The President was visibly pleased,” Romualdez said, citing the President's remarks about the speaker's performance in a meeting at the Palace Wednesday.
“The members of the House of Representatives are happy that under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, so much legislation has been passed despite the limitations and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Cayetano is speaker until October 2020 as part of a term-sharing deal brokered by the President. The gentleman's agreement would have Cayetano step down after that in favor of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who would become speaker until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
But Barzaga said it would be better for Congress if the term-sharing agreement would not push through.
“Although there is separation of the executive and the House, naturally most of us will obey the President,” he said.
“Just in case the President… tells us to have an election, I think it will be a landslide win [for] Alan Peter Cayetano," he added.
He said Cayetano has been effective in getting legislation passed in the last year and two months. Should Velasco become the speaker in October, Barzaga said, he must be able to unite those who support him and those who do not.
“We all need to unite so we could pursue whatever must be crafted and passed in Congress,” he noted.
"That will be a test of his leadership. If he could not gain the cooperation of the majority in Congress, it will be very hard on his part to lead the House of Representatives," he said of Velasco.
A word war erupted between allies of Cayetano and Velasco on Sept. 18 over the distribution of funds under the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Rau Villafuerte, a staunch ally of Cayetano, accused Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. of being a rumormonger for supposedly peddling the disproportionate allocations of funds under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in certain congressional districts.
Teves slammed the huge P11.8 billion and P8 billion allocations in the proposed 2021 budget of the DPWH for Camarines Sur and Taguig City, respectively.