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Duterte fed up with House intramurals; new speaker elected

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star) — A day after President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman told reporters that the chief executive was fed up with the squabbling of his allies in the House of Representatives, a majority of its member elected a new speaker, Lord Allan Velasco.

His predecessor, Alan Peter Cayetano, had resigned, saying that he might have “misunderstood” the president.

On Monday morning, in a session held outside the House chamber, 186 of the  297 members elected Velasco as the new speaker

Cayetano called the election a  sham and claimed that 200 members supported him.

But on Tuesday, he announced his “irrevocable resignation” as speaker.

In the House chamber, members ratified Velasco’s speakership election. This was done to remove questions over the legality of the proceedings at the Celebrity Sports Club on Monday when 186 lawmakers elected Velasco as the new speaker.

In a statement, Cayetano also apologized to President Duterte for “misunderstanding” that the chief executive wanted him to finish the budget deliberations before relinquishing his post.

“Based on my understanding, I was to handle the budget…until the budget deliberations are finished so that there would be no disruption and I invited Congressman Velasco to join me.

“Mr. President, if I made a mistake…I apologize. It was not my intention — never — not to follow you.”

At a press briefing on Monday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte’s main concern was the passage of the $92.66 billion budget for 2021 so that the government can deal more effectively with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In principle, the president does not want to be involved in politics,” Roque said. “ ‘I am fed up.’ That’s the verbatim statement of the president when he urged lawmakers to set aside politics,” Roque added.

“The president just said, pass the budget first, so anything they do after the budget is the affair of the House of Representatives,” Roque said

“He is fed up because the politicking in the House has not stopped. Those who want to become speaker just want power. How about the nation? He is not siding with anyone at this point. He just wants the Covid-19 budget passed.”

Duterte met with Velasco and Cayetano on Sept. 29 in an attempt to settle the term-sharing question, but this only led to the two warring factions issuing contradictory statements on what happened during the meeting.

Under the term-sharing agreement brokered by Duterte in 2019, Cayetano would serve as House speaker for 15 months, or until Oct. 2020, followed by Velasco for 21 months.

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