WORK TOGETHER. President Rodrigo R. Duterte meets newly-elected House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (Oct. 13, 2020). Velasco and Cayetano vowed to work together for the timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go were also present in the meeting. (Courtesy of Senator Go)
MANILA – The rivalry between newly-elected Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has ended after the two agreed to “work together” for the timely passage of the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with Velasco and Cayetano at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañan Palace.
Also present in the meeting were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s meeting with House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pushed through in the early afternoon of Tuesday, October 13,” Roque said in a statement.
The meeting took place minutes after the House ratified Velasco’s speakership election on Tuesday’s plenary session, essentially ousting Cayetano who tendered his irrevocable resignation.
“In the course of the meeting, the two representatives agreed to work together as one majority in order to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 budget and other priority legislation of the Duterte administration,” Roque said.
With the end of the speakership row, Roque said Duterte is now optimistic that the proposed 2021 budget will be passed on time.
“Now, the President is very optimistic na mapapasa po iyan kasi naisantabi na nga po iyong pulitika (that it will be passed on time because they were able to set aside politics) and they can now concentrate on passing the budget in the House,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Last Thursday, Duterte, in a public address, urged the Congress to set aside politics and prioritize the timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget which will be used to respond to the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Duterte also issued Proclamation 1027 on Friday calling on the Congress to hold a special session from Oct. 13 to 16 to resume the congressional deliberations on the 2021 national budget.
In the Palace press briefing that took place before the Palace meeting, Roque congratulated Velasco for being elected as new Speaker.
“Our congratulations then to the new Speaker of the House, Congressman Lord Allan Velasco. But as I said, that’s a decision of the House of Representatives,” he said.
Roque expressed confidence that cooperation between the Executive and House of Representatives will continue under Velasco’s leadership.
“We look forward to working closely with Speaker Lord Allan Velasco because he is also a very close ally of this administration at ang tingin ko naman po magpapatuloy ang buong kooperasyon ng Ehekutibo at ng Kongreso (and I think the full cooperation of the Executive and the Congress will continue) under the leadership of Congressman/Speaker Lord Allan Velasco,” he said.
He also thanked Cayetano for serving his term.
It was Duterte who brokered a term-sharing agreement in 2019 where Cayetano would serve as the Speaker until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position until 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Roque said Duterte’s call to end the budget impasse in Congress could have helped resolve the speakership tussle.
“I think the message was received by everyone that the President really needed the early passage of the proposed 2021 budget. Kung hindi po siguro dahil dito ay lalo pang napahaba iyong agawan sa puwesto (If it were not for his message, perhaps their rivalry for the position will be even longer),” he said.
He said Duterte was able to convey his message that passage of the proposed 2021 budget was more important than anything at the time of pandemic.
“I think, made it very, very clear that at the time of Covid, hindi pupuwedeng maantala iyong budget niya para maging kasagutan dito sa pandemyang ito (his budget cannot be derailed because it is the answer to this pandemic). And we thank the House of Representatives for that,” he said. (PNA)