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Cayetano offers to resign as Speaker; motion rejected minutes later

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday formally rejected the offer of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to resign as the leader of the chamber.

With 184 affirmative votes, one negative, and nine abstentions, the chamber approved the motion to reject Cayetano's offer to resign and make way for the speakership of rival Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano earlier offered to step down from the helm of the chamber, just about a day after he and Velasco met with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night to iron out the issue on the speakership.

"I will not be party to let the President down, so I am offering my resignation here and now to you my dear colleagues. My fate and the fate of the 2021 budget and the fate of the leadership of the House is in your hands," Cayetano told lawmakers in his speech before the plenary. 

Minutes later, Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Mike Defensor rose to object Cayetano's offer of resignation.

Bulacan Representative Jonathan Sy-Alvarado seconded Defensor's motion.

The House then conducted a vote of ayes and nayes to accept Defensor's motion, wherein the "ayes" won.

But Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, who was presiding over the session, ruled to conduct a nominal voting so as "to remove doubt and question the previous result of the voting by viva voce."

Earlier in his privilege speech, Cayetano predicted that Velasco will not be elected as Speaker of the House.

He said that Velasco might win if he steps down as Speaker, but the latter might only be ousted after a week.

"Under the Constitution, you need the majority of all members to be elected speaker. So I can step aside. But I can guarantee, he will not be elected," Cayetano said of Velasco.

"In fact, I will make a fearless forecast: Hindi siya mananalo. Or if I step aside, mananalo siya after one week makukudeta siya. Bakit? Maraming popular sa Kongreso," he added. 

December turnover

At the same time, Cayetano divulged that during Tuesday's meeting, Duterte had asked Velasco to delay the turnover of the speakership to December.

"The President repeatedly asked the Cong. Velasco to move the term sharing agreement to December so that Congress may be able to finish the budget," he said.

"The President asked this not to give me a few months as speaker but because it was for the good of the country," he added.

Cayetano said Duterte's appeal to Velasco was rejected "many, may times despite the reasonings given."

Following Tuesday night's meeting, reports surfaced that Velasco would be assuming the speakership by October 14 — a situation confirmed by Oriential Mindoro Representative Salvador Leachon Jr.

"Clearly, the position of the President is to enforce. Huwag na pasakitin ang ulo ng pangulo, and that is what we expect: the enforcement of the agreement brokered 15 months ago by no less than the President," Leachon said in an ANC interview earlier in the day. 

Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, however, said there was no date that was agreed upon when Velasco would assume the speakership.

He said Cayetano assured the President that he will honor the term-sharing agreement but he could not speak for the "majority" of congressmen who wanted him to stay.

Cayetano was elected Speaker of the House in July 2019 following a tight three-way race to the speakership including Velasco and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez.

The President then mediated and brokered a term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco.

Under this deal Cayetano is expected to hold the speakership for 15 months and Velasco would take over to finish the next 21 months.

Meanwhile, Romualdez was relegated to the position of House Majority Leader. 

Willing to step down

Last week, Cayetano said he was willing to step down from his post if his fellow lawmakers no longer want him as their leader.

He nevertheless accused Velasco and his camp of being behind the most recent supposed coup attempt against him.

Also last week, Velasco broke his silence on the issue of the term-sharing agreement with Cayetano, saying that although he had not been making comments on the matter, it did not mean that he was already disinterested or turned his back on the deal.

He also insisted that his term-sharing agreement with Cayetano must be upheld, saying the deal was made "for God and our country." — KG/RSJ/NB/KBK, GMA News

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