Romualdez, Velasco join call of Duterte Coalition for unified House of Representatives

Robie de Guzman   •   July 5, 2019   •   766

(L-R) Martin Romualdez and Lord Allan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – House speakership aspirants Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco on Friday welcomed the formation of the Duterte Coalition, and responded positively to its call for a united House of Representatives.

Romualdez said he joins the call of regional parties, Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod for House lawmakers to unite under the banner of the reform agenda set by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I join hands with the Duterte Coalition in establishing a House of Representatives that truly reflects the will of our people,” Romualdez said in a statement.

The Leyte representative also said he agrees with the position of the Duterte Coalition for congressmen to be given the freedom to choose their leaders based on the dictates of their conscience and wishes of their constituents.

“Let every Speakership aspirant subject himself to the scrutiny of his peers, who shall be the ultimate judge on who shall be the primus inter pares. May the best man win,” he said.

Romualdez added that only a unified Congress, with a leader elected freely by its members, could help President Rodrigo Duterte realize his vision of alleviating poverty in the country through sustained economic growth.

“On these points, I commit myself to the ideals spelled out by the Duterte Coalition in its statement,” he said.

Velasco, in a separate statement, also urged his fellow lawmakers to join the Coalition and set aside their personal ambitions.  

“I welcome the formation of the Duterte Coalition whose intention is to unite the House of Representatives and push a strategic partnership between and among public servants who are deeply committed to institute reforms for better governance and development,” Velasco said.

Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, earlier said he formed a nine-member coalition in a bid to unite the members of the House of Representatives amid factions and squabbles over the highest House position.

READ: Paolo Duterte forms coalition, hits Cabinet members meddling in House speakership race

He called on lawmakers, who believe in positive change, to join the coalition, and even extended a special call to be partner to Romualdez, Velasco and Alan Peter Cayetano.    

The presidential son, who earlier announced his possible bid for the speakership race, has been calling for unity in the House of Representatives.

In a separate statement, the PDP-Laban also welcomed Duterte’s effort to unite House members.

However, the ruling party reiterated it would continue to support Velasco in the race for speakership.

“For as long as we have a party member as a serious contender for House Speaker, we will continue to call for party discipline and unity in supporting our party nominee,” PDP-Laban president Senator Aquino ‘Koko’ Pimentel said.

Pimentel has been urging his party-mates to support Velasco after some PDP-Laban members said they will shift support if Duterte pursues his bid for speakership.

Aside from Duterte, Romualdez and Velasco, others gunning for the speakership post are Cayetano, Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate and Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales. (with details from Grace Casin)

Cayetano seeks review of National Building Code

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for a review of the National Building Code after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday in parts of Mindanao (October 29).

“I think it’s about time that we take three drastic steps. Number one, to review the National Building Code,” he said.

House Bill 4008 or the Building Code of 2019 aims to repeal the Presidential Decree 1046 or the National Building Code of the country.

Under the proposed bill, there will be new building standards to reduce the risk of severe damage during calamities like earthquakes. Non-compliance with the said standards can also lead to criminal liability.

In a statement, House Deputy Speaker and 1-PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero said it is high time to change Presidential Decree 1046 because it was passed into law in 1977.

He also said there is poor compliance to the National Building Code.

“It is abundantly clear that poor compliance with the National Building Code is part of the systemic reason for the deaths, injuries, and widespread damage in Mindanao because of today’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last October 16,” he said.

The House Bill 4008 will be one of the priority bills to be discussed in the House of Representatives once session resumes on November 4.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Cayetano: Term sharing deal with Velasco still stands but Duterte has final say

Robie de Guzman   •   October 17, 2019

New House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano walks up to his post on stage at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 22 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that his term-sharing deal with Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco still stands but stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte – who brokered the agreement – has the final say.

“No use talking about something na malayo pa. But wala naman dapat ikabahala yung kahit sino kasi nga lahat naman tayo ay sumasang-ayon na ang Pangulo ang magde-decide. And so far, meron siyang standing na decision and so far, that stands,” Cayetano said during the sidelines of his inspection of the 2019 SEA Games sports facilities in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Cayetano made the statement in response to comments that it might be difficult to replace him after he got high trust and approval ratings in September Pulse Asia Survey.

Under the term-sharing deal, Cayetano would lead the Lower Chamber in the first 15 months while Velasco will serve the remaining 21 months of the three-year term.

Cayetano said he would ask the President for instructions a few months before his term ends as leader of the super majority.

“So I promised the President na I’ll do a good job. And then one month, two months before yung middle o yung pinag-usapan, I’ll go to him for instructions,” he said.

Velasco has yet to issue any reaction on the issue.

Malacañang, for its part, said that the President will not interfere and will let House members elect their own leader.

“Nasa members of Congress ‘yun. Actually, they are the ones choosing the Speaker,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“I don’t think he interferes. His style is he doesn’t interfere unless you ask him to,” he added.

It can be recalled that the race for House Speakership got heated when a number of lawmakers including Cayetano, Velasco and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez expressed interest in the speakership post.

The issue had divided House members until Duterte himself intervened and endorsed Cayetano as Speaker, who will share the term with Velasco.

In the same agreement, Romualdez was given the job as House Majority Floor Leader. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Installing Designated Survivor in Phl setting, timely – lawmakers

Maris Federez   •   August 30, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday voiced out his concern whenever the President, Vice President, senators, House representatives, and members of the Cabinet are together in one event.

“Example, there are extremists or a terrorist bomb at the Batasan and all died. We don’t have a successor,” he said.

That is why the senator believes that it is high time for the country to have a designated survivor, and filed his version of the Designated Survivor Bill.

A designated survivor is chosen and will be tasked to be the leader of the country when government officials included in the line of succession are incapacitated or have died at the same time.

An official who will be chosen to be the designated survivor will be brought to a safe house whenever the President holds a state of the nation address.

In the country’s existing law, included in the line of succession after the President is the Vice President, the Senate President, and the House Speaker.

 “After the Speaker of the House, we will continue the line of succession by naming the most senior member of the senate in terms of number of years. At kung naubos pa rin lahat ng senador, yung most senior member of the House of Representatives. Kung maubos parin ang lahat ng member ng House of Representatives [And when no one is left in the Senate, it will be the most senior in the House of Representatives. And when one is left in the House of Representatives], the President will now designate a Designated Survivor from among the members of the cabinet,” Lacson explained.

Meanwhile, on her version of the said bill in the House, Quezon City Representative Precious Hipolito-Castelo proposed that the Designated Survivor must be from the President’s Cabinet.

 “The absence of a leader can lead to lawlessness and disorder and, worst, anarchy,” the lady lawmaker said.

She stressed the need for a designated survivor, saying it will prevent the country from going into chaos in case the leaders perish.

Senator Lacson admitted that he was inspired to file the Designated Survivor Bill after watching the popular American TV series bearing the same title which revolves in the life and challenges of being the Designated Survivor.

U.S. law provides that a Designated Survivor is installed in office when the President, Vice President, and other officials come together in a gathering, such as the State of the Union Address, Presidential inauguration and during Congress Joint Session.

“Kapag naisabatas ito maraming hindi a-attend ng SONA [Once this is passed, many will not attend the SONA],” the senator quipped. (from the report of Grace Casin) /mbmf

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