The meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that occurred hours after the lawmaker offered to resign was “a coincidence,” Malacañang said.
Last year, Duterte himself brokered a “gentleman’s agreement” between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco that provided for a term-sharing arrangement for the two.
On Wednesday, Cayetano offered to resign in a speech where he also chided Velasco, but a majority of lawmakers readily rejected his stepping down.
The incumbent Speaker of the House later that day met with Duterte during a supposed pray-over by House Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
“They had a pray-over but because Speaker Cayetano was also present, inevitably they had to discuss what happened in the House,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview.
“It was a coincidence,” he added.
Roque reiterated that Cayetano did not gatecrash said meeting, as he is originally invited by the president.
“It’s very difficult actually to gate crash a meeting unless you’re part of the original guest list… I know how the appointments office works and it does not matter really who you are. If you are not in the guest list, you’re not included,” said Roque.
On Thursday, the Palace has claimed that the Speakership row was finally settled and that the President was urging lawmakers to pass the 2021 national budget immediately.