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Defensor vows to work for the people

ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Tuesday assured that he will continue to work for the people after the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco removed him Monday as vice chairman of five House committees.

“Even outside these committees, I will continue to do the work I was elected to do,” Defensor said.

Defensor, former chairman of the House committee on public accounts who led various investigations and briefings on many pressing issues affecting ordinary people, said he is proud of his work and the accomplishments he made.

“I am proud of the work we accomplished while I was Vice Chair of the Committees on Health, on Good Government and Public Accountability, on Dangerous Drugs, on Public Information, and on Strategic Intelligence.

I am still Vice Chair of the Committees on Legislative Franchises and on Welfare of Children, although I expect that I will be pushed out soon,” Defensor said.

“Titles, names, and positions do not define us and the service we render for the people,” Defensor said. “Instead of uniting the House, he (Velasco) further divides it.”

Aside from Defensor, the House leadership also removed Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, who was stripped earlier of his post as Deputy Speaker, as vice chairman of the House committee on public accounts.

“Let them continue to do their worst as we strive to do our best for our people! We welcome their continued purge of the allies of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano because we are more inspired and motivated to point out their flaws,” said Villafuerte.

“Why continue purging strong Allies of this administration and push for Cha-Cha (Charter change) when they can focus instead on the vaccination program and rebuilding the economy? They can strip our positions, reduce the budgets in our districts, withhold the bonuses and salaries of our employees but one thing for sure is that we will not be intimidated by their continued harassment,” Villafuerte stressed.

“It would have been better if they challenged us to a healthy intellectual debate on various issues, starting on why we don’t need Cha-Cha at this time,” Villafuerte explained.

Deputy Speaker and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Defensor and Villafuerte were removed from their posts following their vicious and inappropriate attacks against Velasco and his leadership.

Atienza said the decision to strip Defensor and Villafuerte of committee vice chairmanship was a “direct consequence” of their statements criticizing Velasco, who is the head of the House majority.

He said Defensor and Villafuerte “drew the clear line by their own statements” in their capacity as members of the so-called “BTS sa Kongreso,” which was patterned after a famous Korean boy band.

“The two cannot cry foul especially when they said they’ve lost faith in the present House leadership,” Atienza said.

Atienza said the move of the House majority was “not about vindictiveness or political vendetta.”

“We are just carrying out their decision to bolt from the majority headed by the Speaker, whom they criticized openly,” he pointed out.

Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose Singson Jr. said Defensor and Villafuerte have no one to blame but themselves for their removal from committee posts.

“They held those positions because they are part of the majority. But after what they did, they clearly drew the line and they have to face the consequence,” Singson, who chairs the Committee on Public Accounts previously held by Defensor.

Singson said Velasco should be given a leeway in choosing whoever he feels could help him deliver as the leader of the House.

“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.

“How can the majority work effectively with that ‘independent majority bloc’ when they are essentially out to criticize Speaker Velasco’s every move?” he asked.

The “BTS sa Kongreso” led by Cayetano is expected to be critical to unpopular policies of the Velasco leadership such as Charter change (Cha-cha), but would be supportive of all good measures and proposals of the present House leadership.

Cayetano clarified that “BTS sa Congress” coalition is not after the House Speakership.