Majority, minority blocs rally support for Cayetano's speakership

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — Leaders from both the majority and minority blocs of the House of Representatives are now rallying support for House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's continued term until 2022.

A total of 26 leaders have issued a joint manifesto of "recommitment" to the leadership of Cayetano, stressing a "pro-people" 2021 budget under his term. A copy of the manifesto was released on Sunday.

"This commitment to pass a pro-people budget for 2021 follows the vision of Speaker Ala Peter Cayetano, whose guidance of the House for the past thirteen months has been invaluable in the passage of numerous landmark bills," the manifesto read. "Including the 2020 General Appropriations Act, which was passed in record time and without any pork, parked funds, or corruption."

"We the members of the Duterte administration Super Majority Coalition in the 18th Congress, now come together and pledge our commitment to the continued leadership of Speaker Cayetano as we strive to always put the best interests of the Filipino ahead at all times."

Signatories to the manifesto included known allies such as House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, LAKAS-CMD president; Deputy Speaker and PDP-Laban House leader Aurelio Gonzales; National Unity Party (NUP) President Elpidio Barzaga; Deputy Speaker Deogracias Savellano, of the Nacionalista; Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor; and Deputy speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, NUP House contingent head.

Even those from the minority signed the manifesto: House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, Assistant Minority Leader Stella Quimbo from the Liberal Party (LP), and Deputy Minority Leader Jose Christopher Belmonte, LP House contingent head.

Abante, Quimbo, and Belmonte were also signatories to a separate minority bloc manifesto supporting Cayetano, noting the chamber would be "best served with the current leadership at the helm."

A list of 202 congressmen backing Cayetano also made the rounds on Sunday, including the names of the 26 House leaders who have signed the joint manifesto. They reportedly make up the total number of congressmen calling for an extended speakership out of the nearly 300-men chamber.

Cayetano has agreed to a term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. The latter, who is supposed to take over for the remainder of the 18th Congress next month, has not made comments about the sentiments of majority of his colleagues.

Velasco said last week that his silence does not mean he is disinterested in the speakership.

On Saturday, Cayetano was even seen chatting and dining with Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, who earlier threatened to boot him out of office due to inequitable budget allocations among lawmakers.

LOOK: Amid House power struggle, Cayetano and wife visit Paolo Duterte

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

Malacañang previously said that President Rodrigo Duterte will not intervene in the House power struggle between Cayetano and Velasco, and there is nothing he can do if the latter does not get the numbers.