Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano “resigned” as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 13, just mere minutes after his colleagues ousted him and voted his rival Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker.

“I am tendering my irrevocable resignation as the Speaker of the House of the Republic of the Philippines,” Cayetano said in a live video on his official Facebook page at around 11:52 am on Tuesday. However, 186 congressmen already proclaimed Velasco as the new House speaker at the plenary hall of the Lower chamber at 11:43am. The House currently has 299 members.

A day before that, the same number of congressmen elected Velasco as their new leader in a special session held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.

Cayetano, after resigning, asked his fellow congressmen to elect the new Speaker, and pass the budget at 3 pm Tuesday, the time when the House reconvenes for a special session upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders.

Cayetano also urged Velasco to fulfill his end of the deal and not replace any of the congressmen holding leadership posts most of which were allies of Velasco according to Cayetano. This was, according to Cayetano, part of Velasco’s promise to Duterte.

The former speaker also apologized to Duterte for misunderstanding what the president meant in the “term-sharing” agreement with Velasco. Cayetano said he thought the president wanted him to be speaker until the 2021 national budget bill is passed.

“Ang pagkaalam ko talaga, I was to handle the budget and I was told, until matapos ‘yung budget, para walang disruption, and I invited Representative Velasco to join me. So Mister President, if I made a mistake, mali ang reading ko, misunderstood ko na gusto mong ituloy at tapusin ko ang budget, ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin. Hindi ko intention, never, na hindi ka sundin,” Cayetano said.

He even claimed that the 15-21 agreement with Velasco did not mean that he would relinquish the speakership after 15 months, and Velasco would sit as Speaker for the next 21 months of the 18th Congress.

“Hindi po 15-21. Ang sinabi ko, after 15 months, I will go to the President and kung ano ang order niya, iyon ang susundin ko,” Cayetano said.

Velasco earlier claimed that Duterte told him that they were both duped by Cayetano when the Taguig-Pateros congressman reneged on his term-sharing deal agreement.

Before the ratification of Velasco’s election, allies of Velasco were already at the House’s plenary hall occupying all the seats on the socially-distanced tables for House members about half an hour before Cayetano announced his resignation.  Cayetano called as “acts of violence” the entry of Velasco’s allies into the House plenary hall on Tuesday morning.

Velasco, speaking from the speaker’s rostrum, took several jabs at Cayetano, accusing the latter of refusing to honor the term-sharing deal between them brokered by Duterte in 2019 and of being so power-hungry that he suspended deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion outlay for next year.

After being formally proclaimed as the new Speaker, Velasco hit Cayetano describing his predecessor and his allies’ abrupt suspension of session until November 16 as “whimsical, illogical, irregular and immoral” and that the interest of the public was “sacrificed before the altar of personal greed and political ambition”.

“It did not matter to them that by doing so, the rights and needs of a suffering people were trampled and disregarded, ironically by the very people who are supposed to represent and safeguard their interests,” Velasco said.

Senators and other sectors were concerned with the abrupt suspension of session by Cayetano and his allies saying the move would delay the passing of the nation’s budget by a month and posed the risk of reenacted 2020 budget for next year, a scenario the Duterte administration doesn’t want since last year’s budget did not factor in measures to handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It was Cayetano, in fact, that immediately suspended session of the House until November 15 after moving to pass on second reading the 2021 proposed national budget on October 6. This move pushed back the scheduled passage of the bill on third reading when it was expected to be passed on October 14.

Cayetano’s move to suspend session was seen by pundits as a move to prevent Velasco from assuming the speakership. Two days later, Duterte ordered the House to hold a special session from October 13 to 16 to pass the budget on 3rd and final reading as originally scheduled. For Velasco, this was a sign that Duterte is not supporting Cayetano.

Duterte, in a televised address, told congressmen to resolve the speakership row by themselves, or else he would intervene.

The president called Cayetano and Velasco Tuesday afternoon to the Malacañang golf club to resolve their rift and ensure the passage of next year’s national budget bill at the House.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement that the two congressmen agreed to work together.

“In the course of the meeting, the two representatives agreed to work together as one majority in order to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 budget and other priority legislation of the Duterte administration,” Roque said.  Rommel F. Lopez