Atienza: Duterte word important in Speakership row

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 02:19 PM

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MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte needs to intervene in the term-sharing agreement of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for the House Speakership, a lawmaker reiterated Tuesday.

“We have to see the President and hear his voice today. Siya ang guarantor. 'Pag hindi ito natupad, yung guarantor meron din responsibility (He is the guarantor. The guarantor has the responsibility if the agreement fails through.). He needs to now intervene and tell the two of them, 'Honor your word'. Ano kasunduan ninyo, sundin ninyo (follow your agreement),” Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said.

Duterte, who brokered the 15-21 deal last year, is said to meet with Cayetano and Velasco to discuss the issue, and Atienza welcomed this move.

“Because he (Duterte) was instrumental in forging it. He was a prime witness. And he was the man in the middle 14 months ago, na ‘di natuloy eleksiyon sa Kongreso sapagkat nagkasundo yung dalawa (the election in Congress did not push through because of their agreement),” Atienza said.

Under the term-sharing agreement for the Speakership, Cayetano leads the House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, and Velasco will take over for the remaining 21 months.

“I am not in favor of the President meddling in congressional affairs. But since this term agreement was initiated and forged by the President, he should see it through. Kailangang tapusin niya usaping ito. Kung ‘di, maaring masira ang pangalan ng Kongreso at ito’y makaapekto sa aming trabaho (He needs to see this through. If not, it will destroy the name of Congress and it would affect our work),” said Atienza.

Members of the majority and minority blocs of the House of Representatives have crossed party lines to endorse the continued speakership of Cayetano, calling for the abandonment of his term-sharing deal with Velasco.

The signatories dubbed themselves as the “SuperMajority Coalition”, although they included members of the minority.

The Majority Manifesto insisted that the members of the chamber alone can pick its leader. 

But Atienza said it was not in the agreement that Congress will hold an election for the next Speakership.

“After 14 months of wielding power, holding the gold in Congress, naturally, malakas ngayon si Speaker Cayetano. He carries a lot of weight dahil maraming nakinabang sa kaniya at nakikinabang. So, therefore, it is not fair to now change the rules of agreement. There is no such rule in the agreement that after 15 months, mag-e-eleksiyon tayo,” he said. 

On Monday, Velasco sought for the enforcement of his agreement with Cayetano, saying "leaders who are able to live up to their promises come hell or high water, leaders with palabra de honor who lead not with lip service, but who back up their words with action" are what the people yearn for "in this period of difficulty."

"Let us uphold the agreement as this was made 'FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY 1521'. I have always intended to honor the agreement. We all should," Velasco said.

"Trust and honor are values that are important, especially in these trying times. They reveal our true character and show what we, as leaders, are truly made of," he added.