Velasco assumes post as new House Speaker

Robie de Guzman   •   October 13, 2020   •   307

MANILA, Philippines – Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday officially assumed as the new speaker of the House of Representatives, replacing Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, following his election that enforced his term-sharing agreement with the latter.

Velasco presided over the re-opening of the House session on Tuesday to resume the chamber’s deliberations of the proposed 2021 national budget after it was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

During the session, 186 lawmakers voted to ratify Velasco’s installation as speaker following his election in a remote session at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on Monday.

Leaders of political parties and regional blocs also pledged support for the new speaker.

The nominal voting came a few hours before the special session for budget deliberations began in the plenary on Tuesday afternoon.

Presiding over the House proceedings for the first time, Velasco thanked his allies and other lawmakers for their support.

Velasco’s assumption of the chamber’s top post ended weeks of leadership tug-of-war with Cayetano, who tendered his irrevocable resignation as House Speaker in recognition of the former’s election. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Duterte administers oath to Velasco as House speaker

Robie de Guzman   •   November 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte administered the oath of office to Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Malacañang said.

The oathtaking was held in a private ceremony on Monday at the Malacañan Palace.

The event was also attended by Velasco’s wife Rowena, his father Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco Jr., and mother Torrijos Mayor Lorna Velasco.

Velasco took his oath of office about a month after he was elected to the highest position at the House of Representatives.

Velasco was installed as the new House Speaker after he was elected by a total of 186 lawmakers in a remote session in Quezon City in October.

His election was ratified the next day in a session held at the House Plenary Hall.

At the same time, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano stepped down from the speakership post.

The two lawmakers earlier agreed to a term-sharing deal brokered by Duterte where Cayetano will lead the lower chamber for the first 15 months to be followed by Velasco in the remaining 21 months of the term. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

House to transmit 2021 budget to Senate ahead of Oct. 28 deadline – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to transmit to the Senate its version of the P4.506-trillion proposed 2021 national budget, a day before the promised date of Oct. 28, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Tuesday.

Velasco earlier said he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed on the date as the deadline of transmission.

The House speaker said the record-high budget was designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We increased the allocation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by more than three-fold to cover more Filipinos. We also provided extra allocation for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to help improve the country’s health care system,” Velasco said in a statement.

“The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to aid workers displaced by COVID-19 and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic,” he added.

The lower chamber passed the budget bill on third and final reading last Oct. 17 after it was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bill was approved a few days after Velasco was elected to the House’s top post following the removal of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Cayetano tells Velasco: Honor word on House leadership posts

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano reminded Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to honor his word to retain leadership positions in the House of Representatives after the transition of powers.

In a Facebook live on Wednesday afternoon, Cayetano called on Velasco to fulfill his “word of honor” of not implementing any changes in committee chairmanships and leadership positions in the lower chamber.

“Sabi mo sa akin Palabra de Honor, de Palabra de Honor din sa side niyo dahil malinaw na malinaw na sinabi ng ating Pangulo that he doesn’t want disruptions so walang palitan ng kahit sinong chairmanship at leadership sa Kongreso,” he said.

Cayetano made the remark after Velasco replaced the chairpersons of two House committees, which he said should not be the case under their term-sharing deal.

Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon was elected as Senior Deputy Speaker, replacing Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte who was named chairman of the accounts committee.

The accounts committee was previously held by Cavite 8th District Representative Abraham Tolentino.

1-Pacman Party-list Representative Michael Romero was elected Deputy Speaker, replacing Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Raymund Villafuerte, who is a close ally of Cayetano.

Quezon Representative Angelina Tan was also named chairman of committee on health, replacing Guimaras Representative Lucille Nava.

Cayetano also claimed that some allies of Velasco are talking congressmen out of their positions, and are even taking their offices.

“There are now some of your people na gustong mang bengga talking to some of our people na magpalit na lang, umalis na lang. Pati Kwarto kinukuha,” he said.

“Let’s not do that, let’s all focus sa budget and as I promised you, kahit tingnan ninyo ‘yung text ko sa ating mga taga-suporta, ‘Please support the new leadership, please get the budget passed,’” he added.

Velasco has yet to comment on Cayetano’s statement.

The term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco was brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself in 2019. The deal appeared to have been fulfilled when Velasco was elected as speaker in a remote session on Monday.

His election was ratified at the Batasang Pambansa Complex on Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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