‘Miscalculated badly’: House shuffle won’t daunt solons ‘loyal’ to Cayetano – Villafuerte
MANILA, Philippines — “If the intention of removing me was to intimidate all those who remain loyal to former Speaker Cayetano, then they have miscalculated badly.”
Camarines Sur 2nd Dist. Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte declared this Thursday as the ongoing revamp at the House of Representatives had him stripped of his powerful post as deputy speaker.
Villafuerte, a known close ally of recently replaced Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, described his removal as deputy speaker as an act of “vindictiveness” by Velasco’s camp.
A day after formally installing Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker, House members elected 1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Michael Romero as new Deputy Speaker replacing Villafuerte.
“Their vindictiveness merely shows that we were right all along, and exposes the kind of ‘leadership’ we can expect,” Villafuerte said in a statement.
Villafuerte also said that it is up to Velasco’s camp to explain “why they are violating the commitments they have made.”
To recall, Cayetano has previously mentioned that Velasco agreed that there will be no changes in House leaderships – except for the chairperson of the House committee on accounts – once the speakership turnover takes place.
The new House committee on accounts chair is Davao City 1st Dist. Rep. Paolo Duterte, a son of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The House needs to be united, and I am all for that. But it has to come from the top. Words need to be backed up by action,” Villafuerte said.
“We cannot talk of Palabra de Honor only when it suits our personal ambitions – we must live it, breathe it, and embody it in all we do. That is what it takes to be the true Speaker,” he added.
Nonetheless, Villafuerte said he will continue to support the President’s legislative agenda.
“There are still plenty of challenges that lie ahead. And while I would have welcomed the opportunity to lend whatever knowledge and experience I had gained these past months to the new ‘leadership’ of the House, this is no longer up to me,” Villafuerte said.
“Despite what has happened, I will continue to support the legislative agenda of the President in whatever capacity I can. But if the new leadership chooses divisiveness over unity, to move back, instead of forward, and to reject our offers of cooperation – that is no longer on me,” he added.
Romero was not the only one elected during Wednesday’s special session on the 2021 national budget.
Oriental Mindoro 1st Dis. Rep. Doy Leachon, a strong Velasco backer, was also elected as senior deputy speaker.
Deputy speakers are the second-highest ranking officials in the House of Representatives. They are tasked to preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker.
On Tuesday, Davao City Rep. Duterte replaced Cavite 8th Dist. Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino as head of the committee on accounts.
Another Velasco supporter, Quezon 4th Dist. Rep. Angelina Helen Tan, also regained her post as chairperson of the committee on health.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cayetano invoked “palabra de honor” as he reminded Velasco of their supposed agreement that there should be no changes in the leadership and committee chairmanships in the lower legislative body.
However, Cayetano himself removed some of Velasco’s supporters – including Romero and Tan as well as AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin and Valenzuela City 2nd Dist. Rep. Eric Martinez – from their respective House leadership and chairmanship posts during his stint as Speaker.
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