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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 5, 2019   •   996

(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 suggests hiring financial forensic experts to investigate corruptions in gov’t agencies

Marje Pelayo   •   August 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines –  House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano suggests hiring of financial forensic experts to help investigate irregularities in government transactions and to hold accountable any official involved in corruption. 

Dahil pagdating sa paper trail na at sa white collar na type of crimes, what we need is not the street type of investigators pero yun nga yung mga forensic, financial forensic,” Cayetano said.

[Because when it comes to the paper trail and white-collar type of crimes, what we need is not the street type of investigators but those who are financial forensics.]

This was his proposal in relation to the Senate and the House of Representatives’ hearing on the alleged corruption inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“I’m a little bit concerned that if it can happen to PhilHealth, what about the other government financial institutions who obviously get billions or hundreds of billions in budget. We have to have an effective watchdog,” the House Speaker noted.

Cayetano assures the support of Congress when it comes to the budget that will be needed should the Commision on Audit (COA) and the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) decide to hire such experts.

The said financial forensic experts will not concentrate on PhilHealth alone but to other agencies and departments in the government.

Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo, meanwhile, expressed her agreement to Cayetano’s proposal saying these experts will be a big help in scrutinizing important documents that can be used as evidence to unveil widespread corruption in a specific government agency. 

“Agree po fully kay Speaker. Importanteng malaman ang [I fully agree with the Speaker. It’s important that we determine the] extent and patterns of fraud through the financial records,” she explained.

“This will facilitate investigation and evidence gathering in a systemic way. Otherwise, piecemeal ang approach. The financial forensics will show kung talamak ang fraud,” she added.

READ: Duterte wants probe on alleged PhilHealth anomaly

State insurer PhilHealth is currently in hot water after reports of alleged corruption among its executives particularly the ‘overpriced’ IT equipment and projects. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Sara Duterte hits ally’s ‘grossly unacceptable’ ouster from key House post

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2020

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio

MANILA, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who chairs the regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) blasted the removal of Davao City Third District Representative Isidro Ungab as head of the House Committee on Appropriations in the lower chamber’s major shake-up on Monday.

In a statement on Tuesday, Duterte-Carpio said the HNP “strongly condemns” Ungab’s removal from the key House post, calling it “grossly unacceptable” and “disadvantageous” to the reform agenda being pushed by the Duterte government.

“For HNP, the ouster of Ungab was grossly unacceptable as it is disadvantageous to the Duterte administration’s reform agenda for the Filipino people and the country,” she said.

Also booted out from post is Oriental Mindoro Representative Paulino Salvador “Doy” Leachon as head of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said Ungab and Leachon were removed from their posts because they were “more interested in funds and intrigues” than working with him.

The shake-up follows Cayetano’s accusations against Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco of attempting to stage a coup to grab the top House post.

Velasco has denied the allegation.

Duterte-Carpio said Ungab is a good soldier of the President who did his job with pride and principle.

She, however, denied any personal knowledge on the alleged coup attempt.

Meanwhile, Leachon claimed that Cayetano’s move was just a smokescreen of his alleged intention of not honoring the term-sharing agreement with Velasco as brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“You’ve been telling that there was a coup in order to, as I said it was a smokescreen para pagtaguan ang tunay na dahilan na gusto mo magtagal sa position para diridiretso ang enjoyment ng kasamahan or ikaw partikular ka sa iyong probinsya to the detriment of other members,” he said.

It can be recalled that in July 2019, Duterte brokered a “15-21” term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco to settle the conflict in the then-House speakership race.

Under the deal, Cayetano will serve the first 15 months while Velasco will serve the remaining 21 months of the three-year term. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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)

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