By Ellson Quismorio
In a move that was clearly meant to dispel grumblings regarding the House Speakership, contender Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on Sunday showed off on Facebook live the support of his colleagues who took part in an all-party caucus in his own backyard.
Heading the attendees were Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Alan Velasco and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, Cayetano erstwhile fellow aspirants for the speakership post.
But all three appeared to be on the same page, based on the six-minute video that was recorded using Cayetano’s selfie camera.
“United po kami hindi dahil sa pare-pareho kami ng idea, pero pare-pareho kami ng adhikain (We are united not because we have the same ideas, but because we have the same intentions),” Cayentano said with both Velasco and Romualdez squeezing themselves within frame.
A few weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte floated the 15-21 term-sharing scheme for the Speakership in the 18th Congress between Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Cayetano and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan’s (PDP-Laban) Velasco.
Under the plan, Cayetano will serve as the Speaker for the first 15 months, with Velasco taking over for the final 21 months. Meanwhile, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) President Romualdez will serve as the Majority Leader for the entire 36-month duration of the 18th Congress.
The Speaker will be elected Monday, July 22, just before President Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
“So doon po sa nagkakalat na may diktahan, may takutan, may mga nangyayari, siguro iyan na
lang po ang ilang mga disgruntled for tomorrow (So for those who are spreading that there is coercion and that there is something happening, maybe those are the few that are disgruntled for tomorrow),” Cayetano said.
Pointing to the 50 or so attendees of the caucus, the presumptive Speaker said, “The major political parties, blocs, advocacy groups, party-lists are all here.”
NP and Lakas-CMD are part of the PDP-Laban-led administration coalition. President Duterte chairs PDP-Laban.
Where is Pulong?
Cayetano made sure to mention presidential son, Davao City 1st district Rep. Paulo Duterte who, based on the video, didn’t appear to be present.
“Congressman Paolo Duterte will be our Deputy Speaker for Political Affairs to be able to shepherd also. Mabuhay ang ating bagong Deputy Speaker na tanggap din ang lahat (Long live our new Deputy Speaker who has also accepted everything),” he said in his shout out.
It was earlier believed that the younger Duterte didn’t favor the term-sharing scheme and, along with his sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, was supporting the Speakership bid of another congressman in Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab
Mayor Sara is also known to be close to Velasco, but grapevine reports suggest that they had a falling out after the latter agreed to splitting Speakership chores with Cayetano.
Cayetano gave some air time to Velasco, who assured that the transition of power between him and the former would go without a hitch.
“So for the next three years, [the] first 15 months [of] Speaker Alan at ang sunod na 21 months ko (and the next 21 months under me), it will be a very smooth transition,” said Velasco, who at times appeared like he was reading from a teleprompter.
“Nagkakaisa talaga ang Congress (Congress is truly united), we want to be a unified Congress para ma-push namin ang legislative agenda ng ating Pangulo (in order to push the President’s legislative agenda),” he added.
Cayetano even joked that the Marinduque solon would take over “after 15 months, not after this [Facebook] broadcast.”
“Just give us some time to get organized, to listen to the SONA tomorrow, God-willing po tuloy-tuloy ang ating Kongreso (work in Congress will go smoothly),” the former senator said.
For his part, Romualdez said that he and his fellow House members were “firmly united” behind Cayetano.
“Speaker Alan we are here uniting with the leaders of the House of Representatives for the 18th Congress. We resolved to work for the Filipino People, for the betterment of their lives in the Republic of the Philippines, putting the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda foremost in our minds, in our work attitude, and work ethic to achieve the same,” Romualdez said.