Solon confident Velasco will get numbers for House speakership as Duterte seeks enforcement of term-sharing deal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30)— A House member on Wednesday expressed confidence that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will be able to garner the numbers needed for the House speakership, after President Rodrigo Duterte supposedly pushed for the enforcement of his term-sharing deal with current speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, who was present during Tuesday night’s discussion among the officials, relayed that Duterte had the “intention” to enforce the agreement, one that the chief executive himself brokered at the start of the 18th Congress last year.

“It was clear to me, speaking in my own behalf, and I think everybody will agree with my perception during that time, that the decision has already been made,” Leachon, a supporter of Velasco, said in an interview with The Source. “It was the intention of the president to enforce the agreement.”

Yung katotohanan naman, pagdating mo roon, wala na ‘yung supermajority ulit. Pag nagsalita ang pangulo, it’s equivalent to 300 votes. That’s plain and simple,” the PDP-Laban stalwart noted.

[Translation: The truth is, the supermajority will be erased again. When the President speaks, it’s already equivalent to 300 votes. That’s plain and simple.]

Malacañang has not issued a fresh statement on the matter, saying it would leave such announcement to the House of Representatives. Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, quoting Duterte, said the latter cannot do anything if Velasco loses his chance to be Speaker due to a lack of votes in the chamber, a co-equal branch of the government.

CNN Philippines on Tuesday night got information that Velasco is set to take over as House speaker starting October 14, following the much-anticipated meeting.

Despite the development, some lawmakers believe the speakership squabble is far from over, especially if the post comes down to a vote.

In an earlier interview with CNN Philippines, Rep. LRay Villafuerte, a House Deputy Speaker and Cayetano supporter, said Velasco won’t likely stand a chance in the voting, since majority of the lawmakers have already expressed their support for Cayetano.

No turnover date yet?

Leachon, citing a conversation with Velasco, said the parties compromised on the October 14 turnover date to make way for a smooth transition in leadership before Congress goes on a break in the middle of the month.

Villafuerte, however, refuted this, saying there was no fixed date mentioned during the meeting. He added the agreement was to let Cayetano announce what transpired during the meeting.

Under the July 2019 term-sharing agreement, Cayetano is expected to serve as speaker for the first 15 months until October, with Velasco set to replace him for the succeeding 21 months.