Cayetano’s ‘theatrics’ derail 2021 budget passage: Velasco

Cayetano’s ‘theatrics’ derail 2021 budget passage: Velasco

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco

MANILA – Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco fired back at Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his “political maneuverings and theatrics” that are derailing the passage of the proposed PHP4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

Velasco issued the statement after Cayetano offered to step down in a speech before fellow lawmakers on Wednesday amid the speakership row stemming from a 15-21 term-sharing deal with Velasco.

The House plenary voted to reject Cayetano’s resignation, then suspended the budget deliberations until Friday.

“Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage. We lost an entire day, and even tomorrow where you have declared that no session will be conducted, which are crucial in meeting our timeline,” Velasco said in a statement on Wednesday night.

He said the attacks and distractions “serve no purpose other than to perpetuate what is a purely personal agenda threatening to delay the passage of the budget.”

“This is the truth,” he added.

Velasco reminded Cayetano that the turnover date of the speakership is on Oct. 14, as agreed upon during their meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night.

“To Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, it was only last night when you promised to resign on Oct. 14 when the President ordered you to honor the term-sharing agreement. Ito ay usapang lalaki (It was gentlemen’s agreement),” Velasco said.

Velasco noted that during the meeting with the President, they also committed to pass the budget on Oct. 14.

“Oct. 14 was chosen as the date for the turnover because we committed to pass the budget before Oct. 14 and do nothing else that would disrupt or derail the process,” he said.

He called on his colleagues to continue their work and pass the budget on or before Oct. 14.

“This is the commitment we’ve made before the President, and this is our responsibility to our constituents, to deliver to them a fair and equitable budget,” he said.

Velasco also assured his colleagues that he will be a “gracious leader” who would listen and be responsive to their concerns.

“But I make an earnest plea: Let us uphold the dignity of the House of Representatives by being men and women who believe in “palabra de honor” in keeping our word and upholding the term-sharing agreement Speaker Cayetano and I swore to honor and respect,” he said.

Velasco thanked Duterte for calling Tuesday’s meeting to settle the speakership dispute hounding the chamber despite his busy schedule.

“As the Father of the Nation and a true statesman, the President has once again proven his leadership and steadfast resolve to bridge differences and unite parties regardless of their political affiliations for the country to sail in one direction and to prioritize the welfare of our people. Thank you, Mr. President,” he said.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte in July last year, Cayetano would serve as House speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020, while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022. (PNA)

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