Velasco to Cayetano: ‘I will see you next year as the next Speaker’

Mara Cepeda
Velasco to Cayetano: ‘I will see you next year as the next Speaker’
(UPDATED) Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco says as far as he knows, his 'gentleman's agreement' with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano still stands

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco is still hoping Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would give way after 15 months and hold his end of their term-sharing deal.

Velasco finally broke his silence on Monday, November 11, after almost two weeks since Cayetano said he is open to being Speaker until the end of 18th Congress, in effect scrapping his term-sharing deal with Velasco. 

“Sa akin, ang alam ko, tuloy pa rin. An agreement is an agreement. A gentleman’s agreement is a gentleman’s agreement,” Velasco told reporters in an ambush interview at the Batasang Pambansa. 

(For me, as far as I know, it still stands. An agreement is an agreement. A gentleman’s agreement is a gentleman’s agreement.) 

Asked for his message to Cayetano, Velasco said, “Based on the gentleman’s agreement, I will see you next year as the next Speaker of the House.”

A gentlemen’s agreement, however, is informal and legally non-binding. It relies upon the honor of parties concerned to honor the agreement. This means Cayetano is not legally obligated to hold his end of the bargain. 

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte endorsed the term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, both of whom are his allies. The President’s intervention ended the heated speakership race among the two congressmen and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, who is now the Majority Leader. 

Under the deal, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, then Velasco will be at the helm of the lower chamber in the remaining 21 months after that. 

But 3 months into his term, Cayetano already said he is open to serving as Speaker until 2022. Ranking members of the House of Representatives said it might be difficult to replace Cayetano as Speaker after the latter received a 62% trust rating and 64% approval rating in the September Pulse Asia survey.

Cayetano previously said the term-sharing deal still stands, yet it would be up to Duterte if the agreement with Velasco would be scrapped.

Malacañang, however, already said the President would leave it to lawmakers to decide if they still want to retain Cayetano as Speaker.

Just like Cayetano, Velasco said he would rather focus on legislative work for now.

“I really don’t want to comment talaga, but that’s still so early. It’s only November. Next year pa naman ‘to sa October. So right now, we’re just focused on working, especially me as being the energy chairman again, focusing lang po on passing laws that I believe makakatulong po na maibaba yung kuryente natin at makatulong sa ating kababayan,” he said.

(I really don’t want to comment, but that’s still so early. It’s only November. This will happen next year in October. So right now, we’re just focused on working, especially me being the energy chairman again, we’re just focusing on making laws to lower the price of electricity and help our countrymen.)

The Marinduque congressman is the chairperson of the House committee on energy.

Nothing to worry about

Cayetano said Velasco has nothing to worry about, however.

“Wala namang usapan na ‘di masusunod eh. I mean, hindi mo maaalis sa ating mga kongresista na masaya sa mga reforms, na napasa ‘yong budget within a month, na institutional [amendments] ‘yong ating unang tinignan, ‘yong record attendance,” said Cayetano in a separate interview in his office.

(We haven’t talked about breaking the agreement. I mean, you cannot stop congressmen from being happy with our reforms, that the budget was passed within a month, that the institutional amendments were the first things we looked into, and that we have a record attendance.)

“So happy birthday sa kanya at ipanatag ‘nya rin ‘yong loob ‘nya, and use this time din to prepare dahil very daunting ‘yong task ng House of Representatives, especially of the Speaker,” he added.  

(So happy birthday to him, he should relax, and use this time to prepare for the very daunting task of the House of Representatives, especially of the Speaker.) – 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.