PALACE MEETING. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens as Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco shares some remarks during a meeting with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and several members of the House of Representatives at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on Sept. 29, 2020. Duterte called on Cayetano and Velasco to discuss matters affecting Congress lately. (Presidential photo by Robinson Niñal)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte told Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco that he “had the right” to run as House Speaker, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque bared that Velasco sought for the President’s approval to run for speakership during their meeting on Monday night.
“Well, I cannot give you more detail other than humingi po ng permiso si Congressman Lord Allan para tumakbo bilang Speaker at ang sagot po ng Presidente, ‘Karapatan mo iyan sang-ayon sa kasunduan ninyo kay Speaker Alan Cayetano’ (Well, I cannot give you more detail other than Congressman Lord Allan sought permission to run as Speaker and the President said ‘It’s your right based on your agreement with Speaker Alan Cayetano),” he said.
Roque said it was Velasco who requested the meeting which started at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Asked if Duterte’s statement meant that he was giving Velasco his blessing to pursue the term-sharing deal, Roque replied: “Ayaw ko na pang mag-annotate, iyan lang po ang pinasabi sa akin sa taumbayan at (I don’t want to annotate, that’s all the President asked me to announce and) I think people can make their own conclusions ‘no.”
Roque said Duterte has decided to stay out of the House leadership conflict, insisting it was an internal matter of the Lower House.
Last week, Duterte met Cayetano to settle the House leadership row between the two.
Duterte said he wanted his two allies to honor the term-sharing agreement wherein Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker until October 2020 while Velasco would supposedly take over and assume the position until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Cayetano earlier offered to resign as House Speaker but 186 lawmakers voted to reject his move.
Meanwhile, Roque thanked the House of Representatives for passing the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 on second reading after Cayetano moved to terminate plenary debates.
“We thank the House for their timely passage of the 2021 budget,” he said. (PNA)