Alleged ‘coup’ plan in the House surprised lawmakers, says party-list

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — The alleged ouster plot against House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano came as a surprise to many lawmakers, said a party-list representative.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles on Tuesday said a number of congressmen, himself included, were clueless on the supposed “coup.”

“The real score is that most members of the Congress were surprised and still have a big question mark as to what's going on in the House,” Nograles told Politics As Usual. “But throughout last week I did not receive any calls on coup or anything like that.”

Last week, Cayetano said Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who will take his turn as Speaker sometime in November, promised committee leaderships and budget allocations to some lawmakers.

Velasco denied the allegations.

As Cayetano revealed the supposed plan to oust him, he also warned lawmakers siding with Velasco to leave their posts.

The House of Representatives on Monday affirmed the decision to remove two lawmakers from key posts.

ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap replaced Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as the appropriations panel head, the first for a party-list lawmaker, while Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo replaced Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador "Doy" Leachon.

Cayetano said that the two were removed from their posts for being more interested in "funds and intrigues."

READ: 'Grossly unacceptable': Sara Duterte hits ally's removal from House post

Just like the rest, Yap was also surprised with his new appointment to a powerful committee, which only came on Monday. Yap said he supported Cayetano when then Speaker Panataleon Alvarez was ousted.

“Tinanong lang ako ni Speaker [Alan Cayetano] kung pwede sa akin maging [Appropriations] chair, kung okay sa akin yung trabaho. Monday lang, kinausap niya ako ng lunchtime kung pupwede,” Yap told Politcs As Usual.

[Translation: Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano just asked me if I could be the Appropriations chair, if the position is okay with me. It was just on Monday when he talked to me about it during lunchtime.]

He added, “So ako naman bilang congressman at binoto ng tao, I should say yes kasi trabaho ito.... Hindi ko na tinanong kung bakit.”

[Translation: As a congressman and being voted by many, I should say yes because it’s a job.... I did not bother asking him why he appointed me to the post.]

This was not the first time that Cayetano appoinrted Yap to a position by Cayetano. Last January, he was named as caretaker of the lone district of Benguet after Rep. Nestor Fongwan, Sr. died.

But Yap said his appointment has nothing to do with the leadership issue.

No ‘coup’

Nograles said the supposed ‘coup’ plan will not succeed as a number of parties have expressed support for Cayetano and the term-sharing deal.

“I don't think that there will be a coup. I think three major political parties have already signified their support. You have the Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party, as well as the Lakas [CMD],” he said.

He added that Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, National People’s Coalition Party, and the Party-list Coalition will also express their support soon.

READ: Term-sharing deal still on: 80 percent of House members still support Cayetano, says ally

Nograles said the expressions of support are not a loyalty check, as it is a move to “move forward and work together.”

Quoting Cayetano, Nograles said the term-sharing deal is still on so long as President Rodrigo Duterte approves it.

Duterte endorsed Cayetano and Velasco as House Speaker in a term-sharing deal, with Cayetano serving for 15 months, and Velasco, the remaining 21 months.