A MAJORITY of congressional representatives voted to reject Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano’s resignation on Wednesday, negating a deal for Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Q. Velasco to take over the House leadership.
Mr. Cayetano offered his resignation after a long privilege speech during the plenary debate on the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021, saying Mr. Velasco is “too excited” to take over the speakership amid legislative priorities.
There were 184 affirmative, one negative, and nine abstain votes to the move to reject the resignation put forward by Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael T. Defensor.
There are 304 House members.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr., from the 2nd District of Camarines Sur, said in an ANC interview earlier in the day that an agreement was reached Tuesday night in Malacanang to keep the term-sharing pact brokered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2019.
Other lawmakers present during the meeting were Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Doy C. Leachon, and Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go who is a close aide of the President.
The President held a separate meeting with the two speakership contenders and Mr. Go.
Before his privilege speech, Mr. Cayetano said allies of Mr. Velasco led a text message brigade asking colleagues not to listen to him.
He said they were meddling in the speakership because they are aiming for key positions in committees.
Mr. Cayetano, who was Mr. Duterte’s vice-presidential running mate in 2016,
said Mr. Velasco would either lose the ‘numbers game’ or face a coup d’etat for being unpopular and seeking to pass the national budget “as it is,” or without any amendments.
Mr. Villafuerte earlier slammed Mr. Velasco’s alleged detachment from the ongoing budget deliberations.
“Lord (Velasco) said before that if he’ll be the speaker, he will pass the budget as per the National Expenditure Program. What does it mean? He’ll pass it ‘as it is’ Not a single peso (will be) realigned. So, congressmen asked: How can that be?” he said.
“With all due respect to Cong. Lord, have (sic) he read the budget? How can he say that he will pass it as is?” Mr. Villafuerte added.
The deputy speaker also said Mr. Velasco needs to earn the respect of his colleagues in the house, including himself.
“It’s a question of confidence,” Mr. Villafuerte said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza