Congressmen might choose another leader in the 18th Congress if they get annoyed with the bitter feud between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
Panelo has raised the possible emergence of a dark horse in the speakership race after Cayetano and Velasco have recently been trading barbs over the adherence to a term-sharing deal endorsed by President Duterte last year.
According to Panelo, the lawmakers who have stayed neutral on the issue could declare the top House post vacant and muster enough votes to change the turnout of the leadership race.
“Alam ninyo ang problem nito ganito, baka sa confusion nitong nasa gitna na obviously ‘yung nasa gitna ‘yun yata ang may mga boto, sila magdedesiyon. Baka naman bigla na lang magkaroon ng i-declare na bakante ‘yung upuan at magbotohan at baka pareho kayong mawala, ‘yung dalawang nagtatagisan at iba ang lumabas (The problem is with the confusion of those in the middle, obviously they have the votes, they might make a decision. They might declare the post vacant and hold an election. You two, those two contending congressmen, might disappear and someone else might win),” Panelo said during his “Counterpoint” program Friday.
Panelo has urged Cayetano and Velasco to resolve their conflict or else risk ending up with nothing.
“Ayusin ninyo ‘yan. Importante maging, pareho kayong maginoo otherwise baka maainis sa inyo ang miyembro na, mga kasamahan ninyo. Mamaya magdesisyon sila na magbotohan kayo, pare-pareho kayong mawala diyan (Better fix that. It is important for both of you to be gentlemen otherwise your members, your colleagues might get annoyed and decide to hold an election and both of you might lose),” he said.
Cayetano recently offered to resign from the House top post a day after Duterte reminded him and Velasco to honor their deal to split the leadership term. The House plenary, however, voted to reject Cayetano’s offer to resign, a decision that was respected by the President.
Velasco, dismayed with Cayetano’s alleged theatrics, has asked the Taguig City lawmaker to comply with term-sharing deal and resign by Oct. 14 as agreed upon in front of the President. He also slammed Cayetano for alleged shameless attacks against him in his supposed attempt to hang on to power.
The term-sharing deal involves Cayetano serving for 15 months while Velasco will take over 21 months.
Despite the raging House leadership scuffle, Panelo has suggested to lawmakers to focus on the passage of the 2021 national budget for the meantime. The P4.5-trillion national budget aims to bankroll the government’s response and recovery efforts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Concentrate on the passage of the budget. Pag natapos na ang budget, then bahala na kayo kung ano ang gusto ninyong gawin (Once the budget is passed, then it is up to you what you want to do),” he said.