President Duterte has stepped in to help resolve the leadership conflict in the House of Representatives, holding a meeting with the two contending allies Tuesday night.
The President met with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco at the Malago Clubhouse to address issues arising from their controversial term-sharing deal.
The Palace earlier announced that the President preferred Cayetano and Velasco to honor their agreement to split the leadership stint in the 18th Congress.
Based on the photos released by Senator Christopher Go, who also attended the meeting, the President appeared to have a serious conversation with Cayetano and Velasco. Duterte was seated in front of the two lawmakers. Go, the President’s former aide, was observing at a far end.
Another set of photos showed the President holding a separate meeting with Cayetano, Velasco and several other lawmakers.
Malacañang has declined to issue a statement about the results of the President’s meeting with the lawmakers amid reports that Velasco will take over as Speaker by October 14. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it is up to the House leadership to make any announcement about the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Roque affirmed the President’s preference for the term-sharing deal to push through. Duterte however recognized that if Velasco is unable to get enough support for his assumption to the House leadership, he cannot do anything about it.
“Nasabi ko na po ang posisyon ni Presidente: ‘I hope they honor the agreement pero wala siyang magagawa kung walang boto si Congressman Lord Allan Velasco,’” Roque said.
In July 2019, the President offered to help end the infighting in the speakership race by proposing a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, both administration allies.
Under the agreement endorsed by Duterte, Cayetano is supposed to serve as House Speaker for 15 months, followed by Velasco in the remaining 21 months. Cayetano is supposed to end his term this month.
Recently, a group of lawmakers expressed support for the continued leadership of Cayetano at the Lower House.
Velasco has reportedly reminded Cayetano to honor the gentleman’s agreement, saying it was based on mutual trust and confidence. He said both sides are obligated to avoid statements or situations that would subvert the term-sharing covenant.