Cayetano: I am ‘sincere’ in following term-sharing deal as Speaker

Mara Cepeda
Cayetano: I am ‘sincere’ in following term-sharing deal as Speaker
'I just want to say: I am sincere in following the President’s 15-21 formula,' says Cayetano to first-time lawmakers while orienting them about President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano promised he would “sincerely” follow the term-sharing arrangement between him and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano said this as he faced several neophyte legislators gathered at a hall inside the SM Aura Tower in Taguig City on Tuesday, July 16.

“I just want to say: I am sincere in following the President’s 15-21 formula,” said Cayetano, who organized the seminar for first-time lawmakers to orient them about President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda.

After the leading contenders sought his help in the heated speakership race, the President said Cayetano will be serving as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress. The House will be helmed by Velasco in the remaining 21 months after that. (EXPLAINER: The Philippines’ next House Speaker)

On Tuesday, Cayetano appealed to his colleagues in the House to help him ensure the passage of Duterte’s pet bills, arguing 15 months is just a short time.

 “And the burden of having only 15 months is that, how much can you do in 15 months, ‘di ba? Tinitira na nga ako sa media to say na kokonti ‘yong magagawa mo sa 3 years, which is true. You talk to any governor or mayor. But more so with 15 months,” said Cayetano.

(And the burden of having only 15 months is that, how much can you do in 15 months, ‘right? I have been criticized in the media already, with them saying I will not achieve a lot in 3 years, which is true. You talk to any governor or mayor. But more so with 15 months.)

“But the blessing is that, it’s like sinasaksakan ka ng (getting a shot of) adrenaline every morning na wala kang choice kung hindi to (that you don’t have a choice but to) move faster. So we’re going to need your help starting Monday sa SONA na  (at the SONA, that) God-willing, everything goes smoothly,” he added.

No less than presidential son and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte hinted at a possible coup brewing against Cayetano. Paolo Duterte and his feisty sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, are backing another speakership bet: Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab.

The President, however, brushed down his own son’s coup claims, saying it would be “wishful thinking” for Cayetano to be unseated as Speaker.

Cayetano initially had a weak support from legislators when he announced his bid for Speaker, as he had failed to cultivate personal relationships with them before his announcement.

But legislators have since set aside their dislike of Cayetano in a bid to secure leadership positions in the House.

Since getting Duterte’s endorsement, Cayetano has been busy meeting with blocs of congressmen to begin negotiations for key House positions.

Joining these meetings, including the seminar for neophyte lawmakers on Tuesday evening, was Leyte 1st Distict Representative Martin Romualdez.

A strong speakership candidate, Romualdez has since dropped from the race and has agreed with Duterte’s offer for him to become the Majority Leader instead.

Romualdez listened to Cayetano’s opening remarks on Tuesday evening, but he left at the end of the latter’s speech since Romualdez is hosting his own thanksgiving dinner for his allies in the House at a posh hotel in Mandaluyong City. – 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.