By Ben Rosario
Less than a week after getting President Duterte’s solid endorsement as House speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano started mending fences with top rivals in the speakership race Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
He apologized to colleagues over the divisive speakership race and appealed for unity in support of the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda.
In a meeting with congressmen allied with Romualdez Wednesday night, Cayetano discussed his plans for the distribution of committee membership and chairmanship.
“Fifteen months is very short, I don’t want to leave that I will have more enemies than friends,” he told the congressmen in the presence of Romualdez.
“So, if I have offended some of you, I’m sorry, forgive me. It happened because of the campaign and if anyone has offended me, let’s set it aside and discuss it some other time,” Cayetano said.
Between Velasco and Romualdez, it was the former who received a harsher tirade from Cayetano who went to the extent of mentioning the Marinduque lawmaker’s wife, Wen, for allegedly involving herself in the speakership issue.
Romualdez reportedly attended the Wednesday dinner organized by Cayetano, but Velasco, who will take over as speaker for the next 21 months, did not show up.
“Believe me, I’ll not harness any ill feelings. I’m also human, of course, there are things that I have (to do) but I look at everyone like a father looks at his child or an older brother to the younger brother,” stated Cayetano before his Lower House colleagues.
Cayetano, a returning congressman who is a former senator and Foreign Affairs secretary, said he has been hoping for the speakership race to end much earlier because “a House divided will fall.”
“But Martin, and even if Cong. Velasco is not here with us, thank you very much, that after the President gave marching orders, all of us are marching to the same tune,” he said.
The former Foreign Affairs secretary urged his colleagues to support the President’s legislative agenda “with same passion that you fought for you speakership candidate in the last two months.”
He then laid out his policy for the distribution of committee assignments, saying neophyte lawmakers should be given committee vice chairmanships to help train them in the legislative work.
“And we can actually give them a head start and mentor them because once upon a time we were also new (in Congress), for better or for worse,” Cayetano stressed.
Further, the returning solon called on congressmen who will be given chairmanship posts not to gun for vice chairmanship assignments anymore.
“Let’s try to make it a win-win (situation), meaning that if you get your first or second choice (of committees to chair), maybe I can appeal to you not to ask for too many vice chairmanships anymore. Maybe, just one or two. Now, if you don’t get your first or second choice, then get a good committee (membership) and maybe four vice chairmanships or if you don’t get a chairmanship, a very good senior vice chairmanship,” he said.