Deputy Speaker Paolo “Pulong” Duterte on Thursday said Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has the right “assert his claim” to the speakership in accordance to his term-sharing deal with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
In a statement, the President’s son said no one could deny that the two men entered into an agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte last year to split their term with 15 months for Cayetano and 21 months for Velasco.
“It can’t be denied that such term-sharing agreement was made before. Because of this, Congressman Velasco has the right to assert his claim to the Speakership,” Duterte said.
An election for a new Speaker was supposed to take place on October 14 per an agreement with the President but Cayetano pre-empted it and forcibly suspended the session until November 16 and approved the 2021 budget on second reading.
The younger Duterte said he was saddened that due to the issue on term-sharing agreement, “Congress is currently mired in what seems to be a battle between two people I’m close with.”
“For a year and a half, I have formed many friendships in the 18th Congress. Of these, two of those that I treasure most are those with Speaker Alan Cayetano and Congressman Lord Velasco,” he said.
“I am saddened that it has come to this—a House divided. And if we remain a House divided, we will fail in our mandate to serve the people as their representatives,” Duterte said.
“If and when the day comes that we are called to select the leader of this House, I hope we vote for someone who is committed, who understands what we want to achieve for our constituents, and who can fight for and with us, and unify the 300 members of this House of Representatives despite our many differences,” he said.
“And when we do make that decision, I hope we can find it in our hearts to vote for someone, not just for convenience or affiliation, but whom we feel strongly can represent the House with the dignity that it deserves,” Duterte said.
Pulong also asked his colleagues to “remain respectful to one another, and support whoever is the Speaker.”
“At the end of this episode, I hope we can go beyond politics and remember that more than power, it is the relationships we’ve formed in these halls of Congress and our duties to the people, that matter most,” he said.