Ousted Speaker not likely to join minority


TAGUIG Rep. Alan Peter S. Cayetano was unlikely to join the minority bloc after he was ousted as speaker, according to a partymate.

Mr. Cayetano and his wife Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano had both signed the Nacionalista Party’s manifesto of support for Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco, Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers said on Thursday.

Mr. Cayetano and Mr. Barbers are both members of the party.

“The manifesto is a show of the party’s support for Speaker Velasco,” Mr. Barbers said in a mobile-phone message. “We, including Congressman Cayetano, honor that.”

House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, Jr. earlier said he was willing to yield his post to Mr. Cayetano if he decides to leave the House supermajority.

“I would be very glad to give that to him,” Mr. Abante told reporters. “If they didn’t vote for the Speaker, then they will have the right to be in the minority.”

Valenzuela City Rep. Eric Martinez, an ally of Mr. Velasco, told BusinessWorld it would be “healthy” for Mr. Cayetano to join the minority.

Some lawmakers have urged Mr. Cayetano to leave the House majority bloc after he rejected the gentlemen’s agreement with Mr. Velasco brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.

Under the pact, Mr. Cayetano would be Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, and Mr. Velasco would serve for the remaining 21 months.

During the plenary session on Wednesday, lawmakers reelected Party-list Rep. Michael T. Romero as deputy speaker, replacing Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte.

Mr. Romero, a known Velasco ally, lost his deputy speakership post at the height of the leadership squabble.

The House also elected Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Leachon as senior deputy speaker. Presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo S. Duterte was elected chairman of the committee on accounts.

Meanwhile, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go urged his colleagues to increase the budget of the Department of Tourism’s P3.84-billion budget for next year by P90 million.

He said the budget was not enough to continue programs seeking to help tourism businesses affected by a coronavirus pandemic. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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