Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Wednesday said Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano should resign from his post on October 14 to honor his word during the speakership meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Atienza said it was agreed upon during Tuesday’s meeting in Malacanang that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over the speakership post starting October 14, based on the original term-sharing agreement that was brokered by Duterte at the start of the 18th Congress in July last year.
Under the term-sharing deal, Cayetano would serve as House speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020, while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Atienza said it is not yet time for Cayetano to resign especially amid the ongoing budget deliberations at the lower chamber.
“Nobody’s asking for your resignation, but on October 14, you should resign because, again, you left your word in Malacanang that you would resign,” Atienza said in an interview over DZRH.
“Wala namang humihingi na mag-resign siya ngayon eh. Ang hinihingi namin mag-resign siya sa takdang panahon (Nobody is asking him to resign now. What we are asking is for him to resign at the scheduled time),” he added.
Atienza, recounting what transpired during the meeting based on Velasco’s narrative, said Cayetano tried to convince President Duterte to extend his term until after his birthday on October 28 but Velasco objected.
“Tumatawad si Cong. Cayetano kung pwede raw tapusin na yung term niya. Humindi ang pangulo. Humindi si Velasco. So, kung pwede raw hanggang Disyembre, humindi [sila],” Atienza said.
(Cong. Cayetano requested that he finishes his term. The President objected; Velasco objected. So he [Cayetano] asked if it’s alright up to December, they objected.)
“Kung pwede raw birthday niya [Cayetano], October 28. Hindi, sabi ni Pangulo, magresign ka sa takdang panahon based on your agreement of (sic) 2019,” he added.
(If it is not possible on his birthday, October 28, the President objected and told Cayetano to resign on the scheduled time based on your agreement in 2019.)
Atienza noted that Cayetano agreed and committed to the President that he will resign on October 14.
Atienza said Cayetano’s offer of resignation during Wednesday’s plenary session is an affront on the part of the President’s credibility and mitigation effort to settle the dispute between the two lawmakers.
“Ang kay Presidente lang naman, sundin niyo ang inyong agreement, ‘wag kayong babawi ng inyong salita. Palabra de honor yan,” he said.
(The President wants the parties to honor their agreement; don’t renege on your word. That’s the word of honor.)
Cayetano offered to step down in a speech before fellow lawmakers a day after news broke out that Velasco would take over his speakership on October 14.
“I’m offering my resignation, here and now, to you my dear colleagues. My fate and the fate of the 2021 budget, and the fate of the leadership of the House is in your hands,” Cayetano said.
Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor moved to deny Cayetano’s offer to resign, and the House plenary approved the motion through voice voting.
A nominal voting was further done to “remove doubts” regarding the plenary’s decision with a total of 184 lawmakers voting to reject Cayetano’s resignation.
Only one lawmaker voted to accept his resignation, while nine abstained from voting.
Cayetano, during his speech, claimed that President Duterte had asked Velasco to delay the turnover date of the House speakership to December to allow Congress to focus on the timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget.
“The President repeatedly asked Congressman Velasco to move the term sharing agreement to December so that Congress may be able to finish the budget. Ang Pangulo pa ang nakiusap (The President himself made the appeal),” Cayetano said.
“The President asked this not to give me a few months as a Speaker, but because it was for the good of the country,” he added.
Cayetano, however, claimed that Velasco rejected President Duterte’s appeal “many, many times despite the reasonings given”. (PNA)