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House holds special session on nat’l budget

WITH the speakership row finally resolved, the House of Representatives on Tuesday convened in a special session to resume the congressional deliberations on the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

Lawmakers heeded President Rodrigo Duterte’s call on Congress to hold a special session from Oct. 13 to 16 to “avoid any further delays on the prompt passage” of the spending measure.

In a short opening address, newly elected Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said he has reconciled with resigned Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Yung nilalabas ko na healing hand kay Speaker Cayetano na kanina nag-usap na kami sa harap ni Pangulo, kami ay nagkasundo, nagkabati na po,” Velasco said.

Velasco also called for unity among his colleagues in the lower chamber as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

Gusto natin na magkaroon na tayo ng iisang Kongreso. Itigil na natin ang alitan. Ipakita na natin sa taumbayan na sa gitna ng pandemya ang ating pagsama-sama at pagtutulungan,” he said.

Let us build a stronger House. Let us show everyone, the public, the world, that we are honorable congressmen,” he added.

Earlier in the day, a total of 186 lawmakers voted to ratify Velasco’s election as the House’s top leader, formally replacing Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

The ratification of the election was held to remove doubts about the validity of Velasco’s assumption to the speakership post after he was named as the new Speaker during a remote session at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on Monday.

Following the ratification of Velasco’s election, Cayetano tendered his resignation as Speaker of the House.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.

However, Cayetano’s move to abruptly suspend the session has prevented the speakership takeover of Velasco on October 14.

Philippine News Agency