Sotto expects good working relations with House-led Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday, July 9, that he looked forward to a good working relationship with the House of Representatives under Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano in the 18th Congress. 

Asked whether the Senate expected a good relationship with the House if Cayetano would be elected as Speaker, Sotto said: "Absolutely."

Sotto explained that Cayetano had served the Senate and knew most of the senators on a personal level.

"First time in history that a senator becomes Speaker of the House. He knows us. We know him. And I do not mean that literally only," Sotto said.

Cayetano won two terms in the Senate beginning in 2007, but his second term was cut short when he was appointed foreign affairs secretary in May 2017 – after the year-long ban on the appointment of losing candidates. Cayetano was President Rodrigo Duterte's running mate in the May 2016 elections.

Duterte on Monday, July 8, resolved the speakership issue by insisting on a term-sharing scheme between  Cayetano and the ruling PDP-Laban bet for Speaker, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Duterte chose Cayetano to lead the chamber for the first 15 months, while Velasco, the President's party mate, would be Speaker for the remaining 21 months.

Duterte first suggested the term sharing between Velasco and Cayetano when he met with speakership aspirants during a recent trip in Japan.

Prior to Duterte's final decision, Velasco shunned any term-sharing for Speaker, saying it would weaken the speakership and hamper legislative work. PDP-Laban later agreed to it, but only if Velasco assumed the speakership first. PDP-Laban had said it respects the President's decision.

The House will vote on its new speaker on July 22. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.