Six days after Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte said he wanted to declare the top leadership positions in the House of Representatives vacant, Speaker Alan Cayetano flew to Davao City to have dinner with him.
Cayetano was accompanied by his wife, Taguig City Rep. Lani Cayetano, and allies ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap and House Deputy Secretary-General Brian Yamsuan.
“There was no work-related discussion. We just chatted about our personal lives. It was just catching up,” Yap said in a text message to reporters, after he posted photos of the Saturday night dinner at Duterte's residence in his Instagram account. The caption read “Chillax night.”
A week ago, Duterte sent a Viber message to Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, saying he would ask the Mindanao bloc to move to declare for a change in House leadership as some lawmakers questioned the huge budget allocation for Taguig, the political bailiwick of the Cayetanos, in the 2021 national budget.
Questions were also raised about the large outlay allotted to Camarines Sur, bailiwick of Deputy Speaker Rep. LRay Villafuerte, another Cayetano ally.
Cayetano's allies quickly accused his critics of trying to derail the passage of the General Appropriations Act until his term-sharing deal with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque is supposed to come into effect by the end of October.
Cayetano's allies have also been vocal about keeping him in place and the value of reneging on his “gentleman's agreement” with Velasco.
Earlier, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. confronted officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways about rumors that Taguig and Camarines Sur were getting the largest slices of the public works budget for 2021.
This prompted Villafuerte to turn his guns on Teves, accusing him of being part of an alleged plot to remove Cayetano as speaker.
A manifesto asking Cayetano to renege on his gentlemen's agreement with Velasco is already making the rounds of the House of Representatives and several congressmen have reportedly signed it.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he signed the manifesto and denied that Cayetano supporters were promised big allocations from the 2021 budget for projects in exchange for their signatures on the manifesto.
Erice cited himself as an example, claiming that his district received one of the smallest allocations amounting to about P400 million in next year's budget.
Erice called on Velasco to "sacrifice his personal ambition" for the betterment of all.
Velasco is on his last term as congressman while Cayetano has just returned to the House after 12 years in the Senate.
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