The Lakas–CMD (Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats) led by House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and its party-list allies are expected to play a decisive role on whether Speaker Alan Cayetano will stay in his post or be replaced by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.
A Politiko source said which side Romualdez’s group would pick in the bitter tug-of-war between Cayetano and Velasco would be the Speaker.
Cayetano is backstopped by the National Unity Party and Nacionalista Party while Velasco is supported by the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino- Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
With presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, openly supporting Velasco’s rise, a source said the son of former Justice Presbitero Velasco has enough numbers to bump off Cayetano.
Politiko’s source said Lakas-CMD and its allies are expected to follow Sara, who was instrumental in electing one of the party’s top figures, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as House Speaker in 2018 by ousting then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who brokered the 15-21 term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco in June 2019, has already declared that the agreement should be upheld but left it to the two lawmakers when and how to conduct the handover.
Cayetano prematurely adjourned the session at the risk of having a re-enacted budget in 2021 just to stop the inevitable takeover of Velasco.
He has publicly declared that he wanted to stay on as Speaker beyond October 14, the last day of session before the month-long break, so he could celebrate his 50th birthday on October 29 still holding the title.
But Velasco is adamant that the turnover should be made on or before October 14.
President Rodrigo Duterte has called Congress to hold a special session from October 13 to 16 to pass the proposed 2021 national budget after Cayetano defied his appeal to the House of Representatives to fix their internal squabble so as not to derail the approval of the general appropriations bill.