Velasco denies agreeing to House speakership term-sharing deal with Cayetano

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2019   •   1080

Marinduque Rep. Allan Lord Velasco,

Surigao del Sur 2nd district Representative Johnny Pimentel, who has been tasked to speak for Marinduque Rep. Allan Lord Velasco, said there was never a formal agreement between Velasco and Taguig Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano regarding speakership term-sharing as insisted by the latter.

“I already got the side of Congressman Velasco and he has told me to release a statement. There was never an agreement between the two of them… Congressman Velasco is firm na hindi naman sila nag-uusap,” Pimentel told UNTV News and Rescue in an interview.

Pimentel made the statement after Cayetano expressed disappointment with Velasco for not being faithful to what was supposedly agreed upon.

Last week, Cayetano said an agreement “in principle” was reached on the night of June 24 for a “15-21” term-sharing setup between him and Velasco.

The deal will allow Cayetano to lead the lower chamber for the first 15 months, and will pass it to Velasco who will take the helm in the remaining 21 months.

Cayetano said Velasco, as well as his wife, agreed to the proposal only to back out from it.

“It is for this reason that I am deeply disappointed that after we both expressed full agreement with the President’s proposal, Rep. Velasco and his wife are now making a turn around and won’t honor President’s wishes,” he said in a statement.

Duterte earlier said he has greenlighted the idea of term-sharing for speakership, seeing this as a win-win solution as he has decided not to endorse any candidate for the coveted post.

“Ito sabi ko. Maghati kayo ng term. Ang gusto ni Cayetano, mauna siya. But he will stay there just for 15 months. That’s what he committed. Si — and Velasco can have the — the other half which is not really as short as — 21 months. Sabihin ko mag-ano… Ganun ang proposal. Pumayag na si Cayetano but si Velasco mukhang last minute nag-back out,” the president said.

But according to Pimentel, it wasn’t right for Cayetano to speak with Velasco’s wife over the issue.

“I dont think that is right that you talked to the other person. I think they should talk to the candidate himself. Mahirap yung iba ang kausap niya,” he said.

Velasco earlier said he is not in favor of the proposed term-sharing as this was not the will of the majority of congressmen.

Apart from Cayetano and Velasco, also vying for the top House post are Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

Meanwhile, Davao City 1st district Representative-elect Paolo Duterte blasted a “friend” for dragging his name into the speakership issue.

“Pakiusap lang po. Kung sino man ang gusto na idamay ako sa usapin ng speakership sa House of Representatives — huwag po ninyo akong gamitin. Huwag po ang pangalan ko,” Duterte said in a statement released on Sunday.

He then urged his fellow House members to vote for a leader who respects other people, especially women.

“Piliin po natin ang lider na may respeto sa kawpa, lalo na sa babae — kahit na asawa pa man ito ng kanyang kalaban,” he said.

House members are set to elect the next Speaker when the session of the 18th Congress opens on the morning of July 22, the same day when Duterte will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address. (with details from Grace Casin)

Drilon, Robredo camp hit Cayetano’s ‘all talk’ remarks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon hit House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his “totally uncalled for” remarks against Vice President Leni Robredo.

“I am saddened by his statement. Such comments are totally uncalled for, especially coming from the Speaker of the House,” Drilon said in a statement.

Cayetano earlier said that Robredo is “all talk” since her appointment as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

President Rodrigo Duterte last week designated Robredo to co-lead the government’s body against illegal drugs.

Since then, she has been meeting with several groups to float her ideas to address the country’s drug problem, such as scrapping the “Oplan Tokhang” and implementing a health-based anti-drug campaign.

Instead of criticizing Robredo, Drilon said everyone should support the government’s war on drugs and set aside politics.

“It cannot be denied that illegal drug continues to be a problem, notwithstanding the over 5,000 deaths from Operation Tokhang,” he said.

“The gravity of this issue on illegal drugs calls for everyone to set aside politics. In the remaining two and a half years of the administration, we should all work together to solve this problem,” he added.

The senator also noted that even Malacañang has vowed full support for Robredo as she undertakes this task.

“We expect the allies of this administration to do no less,” he added.

Meanwhile, Robredo’s spokesperson and legal counsel, Barry Gutierrez, said the vice president has only begun doing her new task and told Cayetano to stop criticizing if he can’t help her do her job.

Gutierrez also said the entire government should unite to eradicate illegal drugs in the country.

Cayetano seeks review of National Building Code

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for a review of the National Building Code after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday in parts of Mindanao (October 29).

“I think it’s about time that we take three drastic steps. Number one, to review the National Building Code,” he said.

House Bill 4008 or the Building Code of 2019 aims to repeal the Presidential Decree 1046 or the National Building Code of the country.

Under the proposed bill, there will be new building standards to reduce the risk of severe damage during calamities like earthquakes. Non-compliance with the said standards can also lead to criminal liability.

In a statement, House Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero said it is high time to change Presidential Decree 1046 because it was passed into law in 1977.

He also said there is poor compliance to the National Building Code.

“It is abundantly clear that poor compliance with the National Building Code is part of the systemic reason for the deaths, injuries, and widespread damage in Mindanao because of today’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last October 16,” he said.

The House Bill 4008 will be one of the priority bills to be discussed in the House of Representatives once session resumes on November 4.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House Speaker Cayetano assures timely 2020 budget approval

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2019

House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano uses the gavel on stage at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 22 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the proposed national budget for the year 2020 will be approved on time.

Cayetano said there is no reason to delay the passage of the budget bill, adding that its deliberation is the Congress’ top priority when session resumes on November 4.

“Wala tayong excuse, we have all the time to discuss the budget. May isang buwan na during the break, nirereview natin, nagpreprepare sa bicam,” he told reporters during an interview at the New Clark City sports complex on Wednesday.

Cayetano also said there is a continued interaction between the lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries to fine-tune the budget.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget on third and final reading on Sept. 20 after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent.

The House speaker also underscored the importance of the country’s economic rating and the need for programs to uplift the lives of poor Filipinos.

He said the Lower Chamber is set to tackle revenue bills before the year ends as well as a proposal to integrate programs of various government agencies that is seen to benefit poor regions in the country.

“The 20 poorest provinces palagi na lang silang poorest so sa 2020 we want to come up with 20 projects for the 20 poorest provinces. We are talking to the different agencies and departments to help,” he said.

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