‘It’s a practical thing’: Cayetano wants longer term for lawmakers

Mara Cepeda
‘It’s a practical thing’: Cayetano wants longer term for lawmakers
Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano says lawmakers who either serve for 4 years with no term limits, or 5 years with term limits will become 'more productive'

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for a term extension for lawmakers.

The speakership candidate backed by President Rodrigo Duterte told fellow lawmakers on Wednesday night, July 10, that he wants to extend the terms of congressional representatives to either 4 years with no term limits, or 5 years with term limits.

“So, I’d like to clarify that, you know, while we will push for federalism, I think, there is a way that the Senate will agree that we push either for 4 years [with] no term limit or 5 years na may term limit (with term limit),” Cayetano said in a meeting with around 30 legislators from different political parties at a conference hall in Taguig City. 

At present, House members can serve for 3 consecutive 3-year terms.

The lawmakers in attendance were mostly allies of Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, who was once a leading speakership bet who had since accepted Duterte’s offer that he be majority leader instead. 

Romualdez himself spoke during the meeting, where he assured Cayetano that the Lakas-CMD president’s allies were “firmly behind” Cayetano, Duterte’s chosen candidate for Speaker, along with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco. (READ: Cayetano wants lawmakers to join the ‘Die-hard Duterte Supermajority’

In the same speech, Cayetano said a term extension would ensure that legislators would be more productive. He argued that the current 3-year term gave them less time to focus on bills when the election season comes. 

“And it is not a political thing; it is a practical thing. So that if you’ll take over a company at sabihin ko sa inyong every 3 years may eleksyon, tingnan natin kung lalaki ‘yung kumpanya ‘nyo, ‘di ba? Hindi,” said the speakership aspirant. 

(And it is not a political thing; it is a practical thing. If you’ll take over a company and I’d tell you there will be elections every 3 years, do you think your company will grow? No.) 

“Sabihin mo, pare, every 3 years, eleksyon nang eleksyon, walang mangyayari (You’d say, bro, every 3 years we hold elections, nothing would happen). So, there are things like that, that I think we can explain and try to sell to people if they see that we’re also reforming ourselves,” he added. 

After announcing his support for a Cayetano-Velasco term-sharing arrangement, Duterte once again pushed for amendments to the 1987 Constitution, a move that would require the efforts of the lower chamber.  

Cayetano – who was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections – was expected to lobby hard for the President’s legislative agenda. 

Aim to be ‘most disruptive Congress’

Cayetano also urged House members on Wednesday to help him turn the 18th Congress into the “most disruptive Congress” by passing Duterte’s priority bills.

“I’m asking all of you, let us be the most disruptive Congress. In the sense that we disrupt the status quo and we can deliver more. Mas mababang presyo, mas maraming trabaho, mas malaking kita, mas maayos na (Lower prices of goods, more jobs, bigger pay, and improved) anti-crime, anti-drug [programs, the] President’s agenda,” said Cayetano.  

“On the other hand, nakikiusap ako (I appeal to you), let’s make it the least disruptive in terms of internally,” he added.

The other speakership aspirants – Velasco and Romualdez – had earlier ditched a term-sharing scheme, but later agreed to it after Duterte himself again pitched for it to solve the speakership issue.

Of the Duterte allies vying for the speakership, Cayetano was seen to have the weakest support among House members, as he last served the lower chamber in 2007, before he was elected to the Senate. He did not cultivate as much personal relationships in the House as Velasco and Romualdez. (READ: Lawmakers set aside dislike of Cayetano for Speaker to secure House posts)

With Duterte’s blessing, Cayetano got the support of legislators, especially those who want to secure key leadership positions in the House under the 18th Congress. Under Duterte’s term-sharing schme, Cayetano would be Speaker for 15 months, and Velasco for the the remaining 21 months. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.