Velasco: Cayetano's 'political maneuverings, theatrics took budget delibs hostage'

Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco said Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's "political maneuverings and theatrics" are derailing the passage of the 2021 budget. 

Velasco issued the statement on social media roughly 4 hours after Cayetano taunted him on Wednesday, September 30, and offered to resign as Speaker. (READ: Who is Marinduque's Lord Allan Velasco, Cayetano's nemesis?)

The House plenary ultimately voted to refuse Cayetano's resignation, then agreed to suspend plenary deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 until Friday, October 2.

"It is most unfortunate, therefore, that today, deliberations on the budget was suspended. Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage," Velasco said. 

"These attacks and distractions serve no purpose other than to perpetuate what is a purely personal agenda threatening to delay the passage of the budget. This is the truth," added the Marinduque congressman.

It was Cayetano ally and Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor who moved to suspend the plenary deliberations on the 2021 budget.

"This is not to stop o hindi naman ito para pigilan o kaya'y isabotahe ang isinasagawang mga pagtatapos ng committee on appropriations. Bagkus I would think na sana makatulong din na itong paghinto at pag-aayos natin sa budget, mabigyan tayo ng panahon na itama," Defensor said.

(This is not to stop or sabotage the proceedings that the committee on appropriations wants to finish. But I would think this suspension would help us fix the budget, give us time to make corrections.)

This was seconded by Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, another close Cayetano ally. 

The plenary adopted the motion without objections. 

Velasco insists on October 14 takeover

Cayetano offered to step down after he, Velasco, and their allies met with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, September 29, to finally settle if the term-sharing deal between the two rivals would push through.

Duterte had green-lighted this gentleman's agreement, under which Cayetano is to serve as top House leader for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress.

Velasco is supposed to take over in the 21 months after that.

But House members' grumblings over the inequitable distribution of infrastructure funds in the 2021 budget triggered a power struggle in the chamber and compounded legislators' uncertainty if the term-sharing deal would even push through. 

During Tuesday's meeting, Duterte told Cayetano and Velasco that the term-sharing deal must be honored. 

But both parties gave conflicting statements on when exactly the turnover would happen.

Velasco's allies claimed it would be on October 14, but Cayetano said in his privilege speech that no date was agreed upon. (READ: In House power play, Speaker Cayetano's Palace dreams are at stake)

In his post, Velasco alleged it was Cayetano himself who offered to resign by October 14. 

He said this date was chosen as it was also supposedly the deadline they set for the House to pass the 2021 budget.

"October 14 was chosen as the date for the turnover because we committed to pass the budget before October 14 and do nothing else that would disrupt or derail the process," Velasco told Cayetano.

"Thank you for confirming this in your September 30 privilege speech and for sharing with the body that this is what we discussed during our meeting with the President – that you will resign on October 14 and that you will announce this yourself as a gentleman," he added. 

Velasco then went on to promise to his colleagues that he would be a "gracious leader who would listen and be responsive to your concerns."

Velasco's remarks, however, were contrary to Cayetano's claims.

The Speaker said that during their Malacañang meeting, the President had stressed the importance of passing the proposed 2021 budget on time. 

Cayetano then said Duterte repeatedly asked Velasco if he was okay with assuming the speakership in December instead. Velasco insisted on October 14, leading to an impasse between both camps. 

The President already said he would no longer intervene in the speakership row. – 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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