Opposition and administration lawmakers on Saturday, Oct. 10, said they are willing to sit in the gallery of the plenary hall if this is what it takes to ensure the “observation of democracy and of health protocols “ when special sessions start on Monday.

220719 congress 03 alvin kasiban - Solons willing to sit in the gallery to attend special sessions and ensure passage of budget measure

This developed as Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon said Cayetano has lost his moral authority to lead the Lower Chamber after he messed up in handling the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

Reps. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr.  (Ako Probinsyano Parytlist) and Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) have claimed that many House members have joined the clamor for the lifting of restrictions for solons attending plenary sessions that appeared to be “applied only to non-Cayetano allies.”

“This time, let us  stop the Cayetano clique from ramming  down our throats their whims and caprices once again.  Cayetano’s group exploited the COVID 19 health crisis to their favor and imposed their will on the majority who are prevented from voicing out their views during plenary sessions because of the limitations of virtual proceedings,” said Singson.

Singson urged  all House members to be present during the special sessions in response to President Duterte’s call for the congressmen to “buckle down to work.” 

Singson and Atienza said it is Cayetano’s duty to ensure that mandatory health protocols are put in place during the four-day special session in order for all House members to carry out their duties as lawmakers.

“We are even willing to sit in the gallery so that proper social distancing is observed,” Singson said.

Atienza cited last week’s viva voce voting on the second reading approval of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill as a glaring example of how Cayetano and his group have been manipulating the sessions.

“We tried to object but the zoom conference administrator prevented us from unmuting our microphones.  What kind of viva voce voting was that?” said the independent solon.

“Speaker Cayetano must not be allowed to get away with his old antics again.  He has been handpicking House members who are given access to  plenary sessions that is why the public see the same old faces hogging the microphones every time there are sessions or committee hearings,” Atienza said in an interview.

The two solons blamed Cayetano’s action on October 6 as the main reason why Duterte, together with economic managers and senators, feared delay in the passage of the budget measure.

Last Tuesday, Cayetano moved for the approval on second reading of the budget measure.  He also pushed for the suspension of regular sessions until November 16 although there were eight to nine more days left before the Congress could adjourn.

Meanwhile, Leachon’s observation about Cayetano’s weakening leadership was supported by Cebu Rep.Rodrigo Abellanosa and Singson.

“Speaker Cayetano has miserably failed in his duty to lead the House in its mandate to review and pass the budget in the manner provided for in the Constitution and rules of the House,” said Leachon.

The senior administration lawmaker said it was such a shame that President Duterte had to intervene and call for a special session in order for the House to rectify “major mistakes” made by Cayetano and his handful of allies.

“With all due respect, I think the Speaker already lost his moral authority to lead the House,” stated Abellanosa.

According to him, Cayetano is left with no other option but to resign.

Singson said Cayetano has failed House members and the people they represent in Congress following his mishandling of the 2021 budget.

“Speaker Cayetano has failed the nation and this is all because of his vicious desire to cling to power,” the party-list lawmaker stressed.

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