Cayetano says Velasco is behind ouster plot

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco himself is behind the ouster plot against him.

Nangangako ng pondo at chairmanship, at 'yong iba siya mismo kausap, 'di ba? But as I said, 'pag nahuli ano pa ba sasabihin?” Cayetano said in an ambush interview at the Taguig City University on Thursday, February 27.

(They’re offering funds and chairmanships, and he’s even the one speaking to some lawmakers, see? But as I said, when you’re caught red-handed, what else would you say?)

The Speaker did not mince words against Velasco, who had agreed to share terms with him through a deal endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte after the divisive speakership race last year.

Cayetano said he received information from 20 lawmakers who told him Velasco himself and his allies in the House were already offering budget allocations and chairmanships to their colleagues under a Velasco speakership.

“Normal naman 'pag nahuhuli, nagde-deny. But unless about 20 congressmen are lying to me that pinapangakuan ng chairmanship at sinasabi na, ‘Next year, it’s my budget. Ako na magdidikta kung kanino ibibigay’ etcetera, etcetera, and I don’t think naman mang-iintriga ang 20 congressmen,” Cayetano said.

(It’s normal for someone caught in the act to deny. But unless 20 congressmen are lying to me that they’ve been told, ‘Next year, it’s my budget. I will dictate who gets the allocations,’ and I don’t think these 20 congressmen will sow intrigue.)

Two hours before the media interview with Cayetano, Velasco issued a statement denying his involvement in the coup plot.

The Marinduque congressman said “certain camps with vested interests” were supposedly spreading the rumors to divide the House.

Velasco maintained he “never had any intention of reneging“ on his term-sharing deal with Cayetano.

The Speaker has been drawing flak lately as the House continued to sit on the bills that proposed the renewal of the soon-to-expire francise of media network ABS-CBN.

Rumors then started going around in political circles saying Velasco and his allies were supposedly taking advantage of the controversy to rally lawmakers against Cayetano.

Lawmakers are also starting to worry over a recent statement of the Department of Budget and Management saying it would first review P80 billion worth of funds realigned by lawmakers under the 2020 budget before allowing disbursement.

In 2018, then-speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was ousted after legislators’ anger over the slashing of opposition members’ district allocations, his controversial statements on scrapping the elections, and his lack of personal relationships with House members festered for months.

Alvarez was unseated after the allies of then-Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, then-Ilocos Norte governor now Senator Imee Marcos, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte joined forces and made Arroyo the Speaker. (READ: The women behind the fall of Alvarez)

Perhaps learning from the mistakes of Alvarez, Cayetano has been spending his first months as Speaker constantly wooing House members – giving them hefty budget allocations for their pet projects, accommodating their requests for key House posts, and going out of his way to develop close relationships with them. 

Cayetano also said that the House leaders allegedly involved in the coup attempt to leave their posts if they no longer want to serve under him.

So ang advice ko sa mga nasa leadership din, mga chairman, chairpersons na hindi makapaghintay: If you cannot cooperate with the present leadership, umalis muna kayo sa committees n'yo, sa chairmanship n'yo, bumalik na lang kayo 'pag Speaker na si Congressman Velasco,” Cayetano said.

(So here’s my advice to those in the leadership, the chairpersons who couldn’t wait: If you cannot operate with the present leadership, leave your committees, leave your chairmanships and just go back when Congressman Velasco is the Speaker.) 

He warned them not to take advantage of other issues like the budget and ABS-CBN’s franchsie.

“But habang ako ang Speaker, we do things by consensus. Kung ano ang tama 'yun ang gagawin natin. 'Wag n'yong gagamitin ang budget. 'Wag n'yong gagamitin ang ABS-CBN issue. 'Wag ‘nyong gagamitin ang mga chairmanships kasi nadi-disrupt ang Kongreso,” said the Taguig City-Pateros 1st District congressman.

(But while I am Speaker, we do things by consensus. We do what’s right. Don’t use the budget, don’t use the ABS-CBN issue, don’t use your chairmanships for other agenda because it disrupts the work of Congress.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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