By Ben Rosario
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday claimed that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is plotting to oust him as speaker months before the full implementation of the “15-21” months term-sharing pact for the House leadership that President Duterte personally brokered.
Cayetano told reporters that 20 congressmen have been offered better committee assignments and apparent higher budget in exchange for their support for the plan to unseat him as speaker.
However, hours before Cayetano aired his allegations, Velasco issued a statement vehemently denying he is behind the supposed coup plot to oust Cayetano as speaker. There were earlier reports that the camp of Velasco was allegedly behind the cayetano ouster plot.
“To my kababayans, these reports are far from the truth. The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte administration,” Velasco said in a press statement.
Cayetano has been hinting of the alleged bid to unseat him a few days ago which was even linked to the controversy surrounding the pending ABS-CBN legislative franchise renewal.
In an ambush interview at the Taguig City University on Thursday, Cayetano told reporters that Velasco was behind the plot to jump the gun on the speakership term-sharing agreement that many described as the “Magellan formula”.
“Normal naman kapag nahuhuli, nagde-deny,” Cayetano said, reacting to Velasco’s denial of his alleged involvement in the supposed coup.
The House leader claimed that 20 congressmen have spilled the beans on the move to oust him, saying the solons have been promised chairmanship and apparent larger budget.
He accused Velasco of personally making the offer of better committee assignments to House members.
The alleged bid to oust Cayetano followed recent political developments in the Lower House that allegedly convinced the Velasco camp that the speaker will not honor the Magellan formula that was brokered by Duterte.
Recently, key leaders of the PDP-Laban, Velasco and Duterte’s political party, jumped ship to join the pro-Cayetano National Unity Party.
Six more PDP-Laban members have also claimed getting invitations to join NUP, a political party reportedly backed by a industrialist Enrique Razon.
Biliran Rep. Gerardo Espina Jr. also bolted PDP-Laban to join the Lakas-CMD under Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
The alleged party raid aimed against PDP-Laban was followed by the move of key Cayetano allies to investigate the power firm owned by San Miguel Corporation, headed by Ramon S. Ang.
Ang is among the business leaders supportive of a Velasco speakership.
Requesting anonymity, a PDP-Laban solon said the said events are indications that it is Cayetano, not Velasco, who will ignore the Magellan formula.
Notwithstanding his allegations, Cayetano assured Velasco that he will not reneged on his commitment to the President.
“I’ve always said pagdating sa leadership issue, susunod tayo sa Pangulo. So he has nothing nothing to worry about,” the speaker said.
However, Cayetano lamented the alleged move to oust him as “very divisive.”
“But it’s verified, talagang may mga nag-attempt,” he insisted.
The House official also warned those behind the leadership coup and those eyeing juicy committee chairmanship to give up their posts if they cannot wait until Velasco takes over the speakership by October, 2020.
“If you cannot cooperate with the present leadership, umalis muna kayo sa committees n’yo, sa chairmanship n’yo, bumalik na lang kayo ‘pag Speaker na si Congressman Velasco, (leave your committees and chairmanship, come back when Velasco is already the speaker),” he said.
In his statement, Velasco stressed that he will “continue to honor the term-sharing agreement” that Duterte offered them in order to head off what was shaping up as a bitter speakership rivalry that might divide lawmakers loyal to Malacañang.
“From the beginning, I never had any intention of reneging on this agreement. Tayo po ay lalaking may isang salita (I am a man of my word),” he said.