Defensor hits Velasco for poor judgment; Atienza justifies Defensor’s removal
MANILA, Philippines — A day after being stripped of his vice chairmanship post in five committees in the lower chamber, Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor again criticized Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the head of the House majority bloc where he supposedly belongs.
But Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza justified the removal of Defensor and the others, like Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, from their panel posts, saying it was a “direct consequence” of their “vicious and inappropriate attacks” against the current leader of the House.
“He may be Lord but he lacks the wisdom and good judgment to determine the right path of the House, ” Defensor said in a text message.
“Even outside these committees, I will continue to do the work I was elected to do despite the Speaker’s immature and haphazard actions.”
“Titles, names, and positions do not define us and the service we render for the people. He may be Speaker but he lacks the proper leadership… Instead of uniting the House, he further divides it,” he added.
Atienza, however, pointed out that Defensor and Villafuerte “drew the clear line by their own statements” as founding members of the new House faction “BTS sa Kongreso,” which was formed by Velasco’s predecessor, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose Singson Jr., another Velasco ally, said Defensor and Villafuerte “clearly drew the line and they have to face the consequence” even adding that Velasco should be given leeway in choosing whoever he feels could help him deliver as House’s top leader.
“Tama lamang na bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang Speaker na pumili ng mga taong tutulong sa kanya, people who can carry out his vision in those positions of authority,” Singson said.
(It is just right to give the Speaker the opportunity to choose the people he believes can help him, people who can carry out his vision in those positions of authority.)
“How can the majority work effectively with that ‘independent majority bloc’ when they are essentially out to criticize Speaker Velasco’s every move?” he added.
Singson also slammed Defensor for making a big issue out of being replaced, contradicting himself on his earlier statements that he was ready to be removed from his position to give Velasco a free hand to choose whoever he fully trusts.
“Defensor should look back on his previous statements. He then said, and I quote, ‘The Speaker will of course choose among his supporters kung sino ang gusto nyang mapunta dito sa mga komiteng ito. Okay lang naman sa akin’,” Singson said.
(Defensor should look back on his previous statements. He then said, and I quote, ‘The Speaker will of course choose among his supporters whoever he wants in this committee. It’s fine with me.’)
“And yet, now, paulit-ulit na lang syang ngumangawa dahil sa pagkakatanggal sa kanya. Masyado talaga syang naging balat-sibuyas,” he added.
(And yet now, he keeps on keeps on talking about his removal.)
During Monday’s House session, Defensor was removed as vice-chairperson of the House committees on health; on public information; on dangerous drugs; on good government and public accountability; and on strategic intelligence.
He, however, remains vice-chairperson of the House committee on legislative franchises and the committee on welfare of children although he said he also expects that he will soon be cut out of these posts as well.
Villafuerte was also removed as vice-chairperson of the House committee on public accounts on Monday.
Villafuerte said Monday night they “welcome” the “continued purge of the allies” of Cayetano “because we are more inspired and motivated to point out their flaws.”
He also said the lower chamber has become a “trapo central” rather than the House of the People since Velasco took the speakership post.
“Their vindictiveness only proves the Velasco camp’s obsessiveness with playing politics. Why continue purging strong allies of this administration and push for Chac-ha (Charter change) where they can focus on the vaccination program and rebuilding the economy,” noted Villafuerte, also a member of the House majority.
But Atienza refuted this, asserting the move of the House majority was “not about vindictiveness or political vendetta.”
“The two cannot cry foul especially when they said they’ve lost faith in the present House leadership,” Atienza said.
“We are just carrying out their decision to bolt from the majority headed by the Speaker, whom they criticized openly,” he also said.
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