Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s move to suspend budget plenary debates earlier is “a very astute political move.”
The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget with Cayetano and his allies moving to suspend session until Nov. 16. This robs Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco the chance to unseat Cayetano from his Speakership post, which was supposed to happen on Oct. 14 per their term-sharing agreement.
“It is not illegal, but I would think it’s a very astute political move because it avoided intramural that could have possible happened in Oct. 14,” Roque said.
“For what it’s worth, you need to have the experience of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano because he has dealt with the same rules, not only for 3 terms as congressman—this is already his fourth term as congressman—but also as a 2-termer senator,” he added.
Cayetano was supposed to serve as Speaker until this month, followed by Velasco, under a term-sharing deal that President Rodrigo Duterte forged. Last week, Cayetano offered to resign, which was quickly rejected by majority of lawmakers.
“Whether or not that is in compliance with the gentleman’s agreement, I leave that up to the parties,” Roque said.
“In an issue such as this, there is no judge. Even the courts cannot intervene because the organization and leadership of the House is a purely internal matter. And the Executive cannot really intervene in the choice of who next Speaker will be,” he added.