By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Amid speculation raised by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano surrounding an alleged “plot” by Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to take over the speakership, former Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who currently serves as Negros Occidental consultant for investment and economic enterprise, denied there is a “coup plot” in Congress.
In a radio interview with Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod over the weekend, the former legislator insisted, “Not one single lawmaker belonging to the Visayan Bloc [has] expressed plans to install Congressman Lord Allan Velasco as House Speaker.”
Last July, Cayetano, who serves as Taguig-Pateros lone district representative, and Velasco brokered a “term share” agreement with the latter taking the gavel after 15 months.
After the agreement was confirmed, six out of the eight legislators representing Negros Occidental in the House of Representatives backed Cayetano for speaker. The final vote count saw 266 in favor of Cayetano, 28 backing Manila sixth district Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr., two abstained, and one no vote.
The local representatives who backed the former senator included Negros Occidental sixth district Rep. Genaro Alvarez, second district Rep. Rafael Leo Cueva, third district Rep. Francisco Benitez, fourth district Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer, and first district Rep. Gerardo Valmayor; along with Bacolod City lone district Rep. Greg Gasataya.
Meanwhile, in response to the accusations, Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza rebuked the speaker and claimed he is “creating a scenario of treachery.”/DGB, WDJ