Congressman claims Cayetano-Duterte weekend meeting held in Manila, not Davao City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — Hours before the House formally starts its plenary debates on the 2021 budget, a congressman claimed that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte's weekend meeting took place in Metro Manila, and not in Davao City.

Rep. Eric Yap, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, made the clarification to CNN Philippines on Monday, two days after he repeatedly posted a series of photos of him on Instagram together with Duterte, Cayetano and wife, Rep. Lani Cayetano; and House Secretary General Brian Yamsuan.

In Yap's first set of photos posted on Saturday night and captioned "chillax night," the lawmakers were seen posing and smiling after what seemed like a meeting over dinner Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, Yap posted another photo from last night's encounter, this time, with all of them standing closely next to each other at the pool.

The photos were initially set in Davao City, as indicated in the geotag of Yap's Instagram account. A geotag is a feature that reveals the precise location of a photo that was taken before it can be posted on the social media platform. It shows up in an Instagram post if a user's location setting is turned on.

However, Yap reasoned that "he is not too familiar with social media," so the posted photos must have set Davao City instead of Metro Manila as his default location. He did not specify the exact place of the meeting.

No other specific details were also shared about the meeting, but Yap noted that they did not delve much into politics — only personal stories and a discussion on the government's COVID-19 response.

This encounter came a week after Duterte's text message to Yap made the rounds and stirred speculations of a brewing House shakeup to stage a coup d'etat against Cayetano. In that message, Duterte himself warned that he will declare the speakership and deputy speakership posts vacant following the concerns of some colleagues over "inequitable" budget allocations in their districts.

However, no coup took place last Monday and the session ended in a matter of minutes. The days followed with a "supermajority" of allies and regional blocs suddenly expressing support for Cayetano, and backing his continued speakership, despite his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano himself had accused Velasco of being the supposed mastermind of the coup attempt, but the latter insisted that he remained silent out of respect for Cayetano, whose term is set to expire in October.

Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said Sunday that the general sentiment of "party leaders" for now is for Cayetano keep his post.

The House of Representatives is set to conduct plenary debates on the ₱4.5-trillion budget for 2021 this afternoon, after the appropriations committee approved it on Friday.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.