Duterte meets Cayetano after House rejected his quit offer
President Rodrigo Duterte met with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in Malacanang on Wednesday shortly after the members of the House of Representatives declined his offer to resign.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said that this was only "incidental" since the meeting was actually scheduled since two weeks ago by Deputy Speaker Eduardo Villanueva to "pray over" Duterte.
Villanueva is the leader of the Jesus Is Lord Church.
"What happened yesterday at the House was coincidental on the scheduled meeting on the part of Deputy Speaker Brother Eddie Villanueva and the President. But the main reason is to pray over our President, which really took place," Roque said.
Duterte's meeting with Cayetano, along with Villanueva, was his second in two days.
He first met Cayetano, along with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday night supposedly to settle the House speaker squabble.
Shortly after the meeting, Velasco's camp claimed that there was an agreement that he would assume the speakership on October 14 as part of his and Cayetano's term-sharing deal, which Duterte brokered in 2019.
But on Wednesday afternoon during the deliberation of the proposed 2021 budget, Cayetano took the floor and slammed Velasco about his supposed hiding during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and his lack of support from the majority members of the House.
Cayetano also offered to resign. But this was immediately objected by some of his allies, which prompted the holding of a nominal voting on whether they would reject Cayetano's resignation or not. At least 184 of the over 300 members of the House rejected the resignation as speaker of the congressman from Taguig City.
Roque said during the meeting Wednesday night, the President reiterated his position that he respects the decision of the members of the House rejecting Cayetano's resignation.
With the voting that took place, Roque said, "they seem to have settled the issue of leadership because it's important to pass" the proposed 2021 budget.
Asked if on October 14 there could be another controversy on the speakership, the spokesman said, "If there’s going to be a new decision in the future, that’s up to the House. But the President has said that he will not interfere beyond reminding the parties to honor the agreement. So the position of the President is only up to that point." Celerina Monte/DMS