MANILA - Members of the majority and minority blocs of the House of Representatives have crossed party lines to endorse the continued speakership of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, calling for the abandonment of his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
The signatories dubbed themselves as the “SuperMajority Coalition” though they included members of the minority.
The Majority Manifesto insisted that the members of the chamber alone can pick its leader.
“In these trying times, as the nation is being wracked by an unprecedented public health and economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we reiterate our continued full and unequivocal support for Speaker Cayetano and the entire leadership of the House, and join the President in his desire to allow the membership to chart its own course in choosing those who would lead this chamber," they said.
"We the members of the Duterte administration Super Majority Coalition in the 18th Congress, now come together and pledge our commitment to the continued leadership of Speaker Cayetano as we strive to always put the best interests of the Filipino ahead at all times."
ABS-CBN obtained a list of 202 congressmen who have purportedly signed the manifesto from the majority which multiple sources said were circulated in the past few days on different occasions and different blocs of congressmen. ABS-CBN however won’t publish the list pending receipt of a copy of their signatures.
The copy of the manifesto obtained by ABS-CBN had the signatures of Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Majority Leader Mikey Arroyo, Deputy Speakers Aurelio Dong Gonzales, Johnny Pimentel, Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Rosemarie Arenas, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Pablo John Garcia, Henry Oaminal, Prospero Pichay, Ferdinand Hernandez, Roberto Puno, Raneo Abu, Neptali Gonzales II, Dan Fernandez, Rodante Marcoleta and Vilma Santos Recto; Committee Chairmen Elpidio Barzaga, Michael Defensor, Vincent Duke Frasco and Robert Ace Barbers and Committee Vice Chair Eileen Ermita Buhain.
The copy obtained by ABS-CBN likewise vowed a smooth passage of the 2021 Budget pending in the House.
“Amid the political noise that has enveloped, and threatened to derail the smooth and immediate passage of the 2021 General Appropriations Act in the House of Representatives, members of the 18th Congress are now called upon to act - bearing in mind the welfare of their constituents and of the country as a whole - and put aside partisan bickering in favor of the larger People’s agenda that calls for a fair, balanced, and equitable budget that will help the country recover swiftly from the effects of COVID-19," it read.
”We pledge that Congress shall act to ensure that the benefits of our people's taxes shall be enjoyed by all Filipinos, regardless of where they live within and outside of these 7,100 islands."
Abante’s minority Bloc also came out with its own Manifesto for Cayetano’s continued speakership until 2022. In their manifesto, the bloc pointed out that Cayetano allowed them to participate in the affairs of the House.
“While we have, for the most part, not always agreed on the outcome of our deliberations, we nonetheless appreciate that the members of the minority have been given opportunities to make our views known and to advance our positions––our disparate opinions met with open discussion rather than close-minded dismissal," they said.
“It is in this context that we believe that the House of Representatives would be best served with the current leadership at the helm––especially now that we are in the middle of budget deliberations that are crucial to the recovery of our nation from the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Minority however maintained that the Speakership is a matter of the majority to decide.
"We recognize that the choice of House leadership rightfully belongs to our esteemed colleagues in the Majority, and as tradition dictates, it is the Majority that chooses the Speaker of the House. In this exercise, the Minority is a mere passive observer in this process, and is deeply committed to submitting to the wisdom and respecting the will of the Majority," the bloc said.
But the minority also hastened to add that now is not the time to decide on this.
“At this point, however, we submit that it may be more prudent for us to table this discussion in the meantime, as our country is currently sailing through rough waters—and in such situations it may be advisable to help the captain who has navigated us safely through this squall, rather than be sidetracked by a debate over whose hands should be on the rudder. “
Apart from Abante, Garin, Belmonte and Quimbo, the minority manifesto for Cayetano was also signed by Sharee Ann Tan, Jose Bonito Singson, Gabriel Bordado, Argel Cabatbat, Alex Advincula, Maria Victoria Umali, Godofredo Guya, Lawrence Fortun, Angelica Natasha Co, Sergio Dagooc, Irene Gay Saulog and Isagani Amatong.
BUHAY Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza earlier reminded Cayetano to honor the term-sharing agreement he has with Velasco "with no conditions".
The deal was endorsed no less by President Rodrigo Duterte.