Cayetano, Velasco insist on marking their birthdays as Speaker in term-sharing deal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Veasco both want to mark their birthdays as Speaker despite their so-called "gentlemen's agreement."

Cayetano himself revealed in his privilege speech on Wednesday that at the time President Rodrigo Duterte settled their 15-21 term-sharing deal last year, he and Velasco argued about marking their 2020 birthdays as Speaker.

Cayetano is turning 50 on October 28, while Velasco will turn 43 on November 9.

Cayetano recalled what had transpired during his conversation with Velasco on July 2019.

"Sabi ko...When we made the 15-21, at nand’yan si Senator Bong Go, very clear ang usapan: I have two budgets na ipapasa, and magbi-birthday ako na ako ang Speaker.'

[Translation: I told him, when we made the 15-21 and Senato Bong Go was there, the deal was clear: I have two budgets to approve and I will celebrate my birthday as Speaker.]

Velasco allegedly said: 'E birthday ko rin e! (It's my birthday, too!)'

"Sabi ko, 'Pare 50th birthday ko, sentimental lang sa’kin.' Sabi n’ya, “Ang babaw mo naman.”

[Translation: I then replied, 'Brother, it's my 50th birthday, it's sentimental to me.' Then he said, 'You're so shallow.']

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, a Velasco ally, said Wednesday morning that Velasco and Cayetano had then agreed on October 14 as the day of the turnover before Congress goes on a break in the middle of the month.

"Tawa kami nang tawa, parang birthday party lang," Leachon said in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source. "But it was agreed na 14 ang sinabi. At nakita ko rin ang tuwa sa pangulo. Sabi niya, 'at least natapos na ang problema.'"

[Translation: We kept on laughing when we heard it, it looked like they were arguing over a birthday party. But it was agreed upon to stick to 14. And I saw the smile on the President's face, then he said, 'at least the problem's solved.']

Leachon said the issue also came up when Velasco, Cayetano and their respective allies met with Duterte on Tuesday night to settle the speakership squabble.

Arguing for the extension of his term as speaker, Cayetano and his allies have pointed out that a leadership change would hamper what could otherwise be a swift passage of the much-needed 2021 national budget. Velasco likewise brought up the national interest card, asserting that the term-sharing deal must be honored "for God and our country.”

But the prolonged squabble amid a pandemic prove these pronouncements false, political analyst Atty. Michael Yusingco said.

“Looking at the house and feeling that there’s dissonance between our lawmakers and the realities that we face... obviously, our politicians are really just more concerned about power alliances,” he told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

Cayetano offered to resign on Wednesday after Duterte expressed his desire to honor the deal. However, a plenary voice vote rejected Cayetano's decision, with 184 votes in favor of rejecting his resignation, one to accept it and nine abstentions.

READ: House plenary rejects Cayetano's offer to quit speakership

Later in the day, Velasco lashed out at Cayetano's speech, describing it as "further political maneuverings and theatrics," as the budget deliberations were put on hold.

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.