BREAK: Making it official, House ratifies Velasco’s election as Speaker
MANILA, Philippines —It’s official: Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano out, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco in.
Velasco officially took the helm of the House of Representatives after the lower chamber ratified his speakership election during Tuesday’s session held earlier than the 3 p.m. schedule—essentially ousting Cayetano from his post.
With Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella III initially presiding, Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondo moved that nominal voting be conducted to ratify the election of Velasco as Speaker in a bid to remove questions over the legality of the proceedings at the Celebrity Sports Club on Monday where 186 lawmakers “elected” the Marinduque lawmaker at the helm of the lower chamber.
Following the nominal voting, 186 lawmakers voted to ratify Velasco’s election.
In his first speech as the official new Speaker of the House, Velasco had one promise to the public: “We will not let you down.”
“This is for our people, for this august body and the institution we call Congress, for the word of honor of our beloved President Duterte, and for God who makes all this happen, we will not let you down!” Velasco said.
Velasco also underscored the importance of “word of honor,” a term that has been mentioned multiple times during the speakership dispute between the Marinduque lawmaker and Cayetano especially in relation to the term-sharing agreement.
The newly-installed House Speaker said that when the agreement was brokered by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, there were no conditions or collatilla attached to it.
“There is no need to open fresh wounds at this point, as there will come a right time for that. However, there is no denying that all this unnecessary turmoil we are currently experiencing resulted from the abject refusal to honor that agreement. There is no other way to look at it,” Velasco said.
Velasco also apologized to Duterte “who now stands assailed by the perceived rejection by this august body not only of the agreement which he personally established, but his very person, upon which that agreement was anchored.”
“A rejection of the agreement is a rejection of palabra de honor, and likewise a rejection of Mayor-President Rodrigo Duterte himself. If this agreement is honored in the breach, what future agreement will not be subjected to doubt and disbelief owing to our failure to honor it?” Velasco said.
Velasco then urged his colleagues to be good examples of palabra de honor and to demonstrate that their word is their bond.
Just as Velasco’s speakership election was being ratified, Cayetano announced his “irrevocable resignation” as House Speaker through a Facebook live.
“We’re okay, we will continue to help but right now, verbally, I am tendering my irrevocable resignation as the Speaker of the House of the Republic of the Philippines,” Cayetano said.
However, Cayetano appealed to his colleagues to conduct the elections at 3 p.m. or the scheduled resumption of session for the budget deliberations.
“At 3 o’clock, elect your new Speaker and pass the budget… You can elect at 3 o’clock. Walang maneuvers, walang political tactics na mangyayari diyan (No maneuvers, no political tactics that will happen there),” Cayetano said.
The speakership row between Cayetano and Velasco has been hounding the House for months now, to the point that Duterte had to intervene and meet with the two lawmakers to settle the issue.
In July 2019, Duterte announced that a term-sharing agreement would take place between Velasco and Cayetano.
Under the agreement, Cayetano would serve as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress before he would be succeeded by Velasco who would serve for the next 21 months.
Several lawmakers have also welcomed Velasco’s election as the new Speaker of the House.
San Jose del Monte City Rep. Rida Robes said she is looking forward to a “renewed, more united, and inclusive leadership” in the House.
“I believe that Speaker Velasco and Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez are both righteous and committed to steering the House of Representatives to new heights to become a more effective and responsive institution to serve the Filipino people especially in these trying times,” Robes said in a statement.
“I am extremely delighted that the leadership impasse in the House of Representatives had been resolved peacefully and amicably by our two honorable leaders, Lord Alan Velasco and former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. I look forward to a renewed, more united and inclusive leadership at the House of Representatives,” Robes added.
Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera, meanwhile, said the 25-member capacity limit in the session shall be now lifted to allow House Members to physically attend the session.
“All Members of the House of Representatives can be physically and safely present at the plenary hall with proper social distancing up to the gallery seats,” Herrera said.
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