Castro asks Velasco camp to quit House posts

Castro asks Velasco camp to quit House posts

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro. (File photo)

MANILA – Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro on Friday challenged Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and his supporters to resign from their leadership posts if they are not willing to cooperate with the incumbent House Speaker.

In a privilege speech during the budget deliberations, Castro, an ally of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, urged his colleagues to unite and work together for the timely passage of the proposed PHP4.5-trillion budget for 2021, amid the speakership row hounding the chamber.

“For those who cannot or will not join us in this task–I have one simple request–at dahil mahilig din naman kayo mag-invoke ng palabra de honor, panindigan na ninyo (and since you like invoking the ‘word of honor” then stand by it). Resign your leadership positions and let those who are willing to help take over,” Castro said. “There is no shame in admitting defeat at the hands of a better foe, but it is not fitting to pretend to be part of the team, while betraying your colleagues and undermining the efforts of Congress.”

Castro claimed that Cayetano will not be replaced as the House’s top leader even with the existing term-sharing agreement, arguing that Velasco does not have the numbers to take over the chamber’s helm.

“Kahit araw-araw magbitiw si Speaker Cayetano, araw-araw din siyang ibabalik ng mga miyembro ng Kongreso (Even if Speaker Cayetano resigns everyday, he will still be reinstalled by members of Congress,” Castro said.

Cayetano offered to step down in a speech before fellow lawmakers on Wednesday, but the House plenary voted to reject his resignation.

Velasco, however, 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.

Saying members of the House of Representatives seemed to have settled the speakership dispute, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said lawmakers have to respond to President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to pass the proposed PHP4.5-trillion budget for 2021 without delay.

Roque made the statement after Duterte and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his family met in Malacañang on Wednesday night.

During the meeting, Roque said Duterte simply asked Cayetano to make sure that the 2021 budget, which will be used for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response, is passed on time.

“Ang bilin po niya, kinakailangan mapasa talaga ang budget sa lalong mabilis na panahon dahil nakapaloob po sa budget iyong ating Covid-19 response (He told him that the budget really needs to be passed on time because it includes the budget for the government’s Covid-19 response),” he said.

Roque said Duterte will no longer interfere in the House speakership row between his two allies because he recognizes the votes of its members. (PNA)

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