The “session” that a majority of House members held Monday at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City that led to the election of Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as new speaker is invalid, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said.
In an impromptu press conference at Batasang Pambansa Complex, also in Quezon City, Cayetano assailed the camp of his rival Velasco for setting a “disturbing precedent” that an election for the speakership could be done outside the House plenary.
“They can declare the world ending today, but their session is nothing more than a social club na nag-violate din ng IATF rules (which also violated Inter-Agency Task Force rules),” Cayetano told House reporters.
“Kung valid yun, Banana Republic na tayo. It’s really a travesty yung nangyari ngayon (If that is valid, then we’ve become a Banana Republic. What happened today is really a travesty),” added the Taguig Pateros lawmaker.
At the time of presser, some 186 House members – 99 physically present at Celebrity Sports Plaza and 87 present in Zoom – were in the process of electing Velasco as the new speaker.
Before this, they ousted Cayetano by declaring the speaker’s seat vacant.
“This is unprecedented. Never in the history of the Philippines na ganito ka-baboy ang ginawa sa Kongreso (Never in the history of the Philippines has Congress been desecrated this much). Never,” Cayetano said.
“If you, Congressman Velasco, are bent on destroying and burning down the House, I can leave any time but I will not allow you to burn this House down. Remember that,” Cayetano said. “I love this institution (House of Representatives). Ninetyeight nandito na ako. Marami na akong Goliath na kinalaban (I’ve been here since 1998. I’ve faced many Goliaths),” he said.
The resumption of the deliberations on the proposed ₱4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 – the first budget to be crafted in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic – will serve as the unfortunate backdrop for the showdown between the two camps.
“Kung ang gagawin niyo (bukas) ipapasa ang budget, magkakampi tayo. Kung ang gagawin niyo papalitan lang ako, hindi ako hahadlang (If you will help pass the budget tomorrow, then we’ve allies. If you just intend to replace me, I won’t stop you). But if you try to burn this House down, you’re in for one hell of a fight,” Cayetano warned the Marinduque solon, who, on Monday, was elected as new Speaker by 186 House members at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
Cayetano said the rules require the speakership vote to be done inside House plenary during session.
Batasang Pambansa is the home of the 299-member House of Representatives.
Cayetano questioned the location of the Velasco-led session, which was a country club.
He said a lot of similar establishments have been closed due to violations of the physical distancing rule brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So sila na ang rule-makers, pero sila din ang rule-breakers (So they are the rule-makers and also the rule-breakers). You mean if somehow I can get 152 to meet in another country club tomorrow, yung ipapasa ko doon, magiging valid? (Whatever I pass there would become valid?)” he asked.
“For them to say that it’s an official session… I don’t think it has ever happened in the world. So it will be part of the Guinness Book of World Records. Nakakahiya (It’s embarrassing),” Cayetano said sarcastically.
He revealed in the presser that he has a manifesto of support bearing the signatures of 205 congressmen.
There is a high possibility that some people in Cayetano’s list attended the Velasco session, since there are only 299 sitting House members.
“Now if I resign, ang papalit sa akin hindi pa rin siya (the one who will replace me still won’t be him); it’s one of the deputy speakers,” Cayetano said of Velasco.
“So there’s no way in the world that the Supreme Court, the Palace, I, or any other agency an recognize what they did. Not only because of the illegality per se, but because of the precedent it will set,” he said.
Cayetano and Velasco have a term-sharing deal for the House’s top post.
As per the agreement, Cayetano will be the speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress while Velasco will serve as the House chief for the succeeding 21 months.
Velasco has accused Cayetano of clinging to power, while Cayetano has claimed that Velasco is an absentee House member.