The Philippines: Cayetano rejects Velasco election, slams ‘fake session’ at Celebrity Club

  • Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano on 12 Oct 20 rejected the election of Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco to replace him as House Speaker in a vote lawmakers earlier held at a sports club in Quezon City.
  • Cayetano said Velasco’s election by 186 members of the House of Representatives was unconstitutional because it was held outside the chamber’s session hall at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
  • “The last time I checked, Celebrity Sports Club is not Congress,” Cayetano said in a media briefing at the Batasang Pambansa.
  • The move by Velasco and his allies “creates a very, very disturbing precedent” that would reduce the country to a “banana republic,” Cayetano added.
  • Senators and other sectors earlier expressed concern that the rivalry between Cayetano and Velasco would result in a delay of the budget bill, and force the government to operate on a reenacted budget in 2021.
  • Cayetano called the meeting at the sports club nearly 5 kilometers away from the Batasang Pambansa a “fake session.” He accused lawmakers who attended it of breaking government health safety protocols on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “It’s really a travesty,” Cayetano said of the Velasco camp’s move. Cayetano said his primary concern is the welfare of the House and the country.
  • Cayetano and Velasco earlier agreed to a “term-sharing” arrangement on the House speakership. However, as the agreed end of Cayetano’s term neared, he refused to cede his post unless Velasco shores up the support of a majority of House members.
  • Cayetano’s suspension of session on 6 Oct 20, more than a week ahead of schedule, was seen as a move to prevent Velasco from staging a takeover on 14 Oct 20 – supposedly the appointed date of their handover of the speakership.

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