Cayetano: ‘No ill feelings’ over divisive speakership race

Mara Cepeda
Cayetano: ‘No ill feelings’ over divisive speakership race

Rappler

'I look at everyone like a father looks at his child or an older brother to the younger brother,' Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano tells a group of lawmakers mostly allied with Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez

 

MANILA, Philippines – Saying he considered himself as a “father” or “older brother” in the House of Representatives, Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano said he would not hold grudges against those who openly supported other aspirants for Speaker.

Cayetano made the statement in a meeting with around 30 legislators on Wednesday night, July 10, to kick off talks on key leadership posts in the House should he win the election for Speaker  when the 18th Congress opens session on July 22. (READ: ‘It’s a practical thing’: Cayetano wants longer term for lawmakers)

“Naging divisive konti ‘yung ating competition for Speaker, but believe me, I’ll not harness any ill-feelings. Tao rin ako…but I look at everyone like a father looks at his child or an older brother to the younger brother,” said Cayetano. 

(Our competition for Speaker became a bit divisive, but believe me, I’ll not harness any ill-feelings. I’m also human…but I look at everyone like a father looks at his child or an older brother to the younger brother.) 

He spoke with a group of legislators who were mostly allied with Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, a strong contender for Speaker who later decided to respect President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Under the same agreement, Romualdez would become Majority Leader instead.

On Wednesday, Cayetano urged House members to pass Duterte’s pet measures with the same zeal they showed when they lobbied for their respective speakership candidates.

“Basta’t ang hinihiling ko lang, kung gaano kayo ka-passionate na ipaglaban ang inyong kandidato the last two months ganoon din sana kayo ka-passionate na suportahan ang legislative agenda ng Pangulo at mapagkaisa ‘nyo ‘yong House,” said Cayetano.

(I only ask that you show the the same the passion in fighting for your candidate in the past two months, in supporting the legislative agenda of our President and in uniting the House.) 

While he was not as well-supported in the House as Velasco and Romualdez, Cayetano practically copped the speakership after Duterte stepped in insisted on the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco that he had earlier supported.

On Wednesday, Cayetano committed to lawmakers that only the positions of Speaker and chairperson of the House committee on accounts would be changed when turns over the speakership to Velasco after 15 months.  

Cayetano promosed that the rest of the House leaders would maintain their positions for the whole 3 years of the 18th Congress. 

“Nakikiusap ako, let’s make it the least disruptive in terms of internally. So, kung pupuwede lang, ang magpapalit lang after 15 months Speaker and chairman ng committee on accounts. Kung puwede, lahat ng iba, wala nang palitan para one family na lang talaga,” said Cayetano.

(I am appealing to all of you, let’s make it the least disruptive internally. So, if possible, only the Speaker and the chairman of the committee on accounts would change after 15 months. If possible, everyone else will not be replaced so that we would become really one family.)

He seemed to acknowledge that some legislators remained skeptical of this promise during the meeting, but Cayetano said he would follow through on his commitments.

“Puwede kayong pumalakpak lahat habang hindi ‘nyo pa nakukuha ang committee assignments ‘nyo but I’m hoping na mas malakas pa ‘yong palakpak when we do it (You may all clap while you have not secured the committee assignments you want, but I’m hoping your applause will be louder when we do it),” said Cayetano.

In the same meeting, Romualdez assured Cayetano that he and his allies were “firmly, solidly” behind  Duterte’s chosen candidate for Speaker.

“Mr Speaker, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of this group, on behalf of those who were not even here, we are firmly, solidly, unanimously behind your leadership. Please take care of us. We would take good care of you. The next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano,” said Romualdez.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, clarified on Thursday, July 11, that Duterte’s endorsement of Cayetano for Speaker was merely a “suggestion” to lawmakers. – 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.