MANILA – Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales II on Thursday said Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will remain as top leader of the House of Representatives if the chamber will be “left alone” to decide on the issue of the speakership.
Gonzales said Cayetano has displayed his caliber of leadership that was honed by years of political experience from councilor, congressman, and senator.
“Being a Majority Leader of the Senate too, provided further mastery of his parliamentary skills, not to mention that his familiarity with the Senators also worked to the advantage of the House, in terms of dealing with our Senate counterparts,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales noted that aside from establishing smooth parliamentary relations with the Senate, Cayetano has also forged closer coordination between the House and the Cabinet due to his former role as a foreign affairs secretary.
“So this is the only time in the history of the House that a Speaker was once upon a time, both a former Senator and a cabinet Secretary and who has had a working relationship with the current crop of sitting senators and cabinet secretaries. This obviously has helped a lot in fast-tracking the legislative mill,” he said.
He said the House has “effectively delivered” and is “more productive today” amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic under Cayetano’s leadership.
“We do not know how long this pandemic will last and what is yet to come in the future. What is certain though is that it will continue to affect all activities including the ability of the House to effectively respond immediately to what is needed by the country,” he said. “But with Speaker Alan at the helm of the leadership in the House, I can say that we are on a steady course, it has already been tested, and we have nothing to fear.”
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months or until October 2020, while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
However, several lawmakers across different political parties have expressed their support for Cayetano to keep his post throughout the 18th Congress.
Cayetano thanked lawmakers for crossing party lines to express their support for his leadership, as he asked them to translate the show of unity into action by swiftly passing the proposed 2021 national budget that will prioritize people’s lives and their livelihoods.
“I am eternally grateful to every member of Congress for your continued trust and support in the leadership of this House of the People. And now, I would ask that we translate this overwhelming show of unity into action by swiftly passing a great budget that we can all be proud of,” Cayetano said.
Velasco finally broke his silence on Tuesday amid the alleged coup threat against Cayetano, saying that “my silence does not mean I am disinterested nor I have turned my back on the covenant.”
Velasco also responded to the claim of the Cayetano camp that supports the incumbent Speaker has been strong due to his outstanding leadership.
“When both parties finally honor the agreement, I will show my colleagues the kind of leadership I espouse. Thereafter, at the end of my term, my peers can then be the judge of my loyal service to God, to the President, and ultimately, to the Filipino people,” Velasco said. (PNA)