IT’S official, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Yesterday, the 186 House members voted to ratify the election of Velasco as the Speaker replacing Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who then submitted his irrevocable resignation.
The allies of Velasco conducted a session a few hours before the official opening of the special session called by President Rodrigo Duterte to pass the 2021 national budget.
With Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella III presiding, Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondo moved that nominal voting be conducted to ratify the election of Velasco as Speaker.
Two days before, the same group of lawmakers elected Velasco as Speaker after they agreed to declare the seat vacant.
In his first speech as Speaker of the House, Velasco vowed to restore the trust and confidence of the people in the Lower House which was marred by too much politics and rift over power.
“To the Filipino people, to my dear colleagues, I am humbled by your support and trust to be elected as your Speaker of the House of the 18th Congress. I had three main considerations why we stood our ground and fought the battle,” Velasco said.
“First, and most importantly, this is for the Filipino people. The present leadership has been accused of putting political expediency above public service. This perception has scandalized the nation to a point wherein no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself was prompted to deliver a wake-up call for this august body to shape up or ship out,” he said.
Velasco lamented the “whimsical, illogical, irregular and immoral attempt to suspend Lower House deliberations until November 16, 2021 by the former leadership, for no apparent reason other than to perpetuate the hold of the ruling clique.”
The second reason, Velasco said, is to restore a sense of statesmanship to this august body.
“To this day, there is that sense of reverence to the memory and the legacy of the men and women who once lit up its hallowed halls. It is incumbent upon each and everyone of us who follow in their footsteps to respect their memory by living up to the code of honor to which they swore and lived by,” he stressed.
Lastly, the third reason is that time-honored and yet increasingly challenged virtue called word of honor.
“ When President Rodrigo Duterte brokered a term-sharing agreement last year, there were no conditions or collatilla attached to it. The gentleman’s agreement for two parties to serve alternately was sealed by a handshake, witnessed by the president himself. This was a bond of honor stronger than any written contract,” he said.
“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,” the new Speaker said.
Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
On Facebook live, Cayetano announced his irrevocable resignation amid the speakership row between him and now Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
While Cayetano was announcing his resignation, 189 House members voted in the plenary hall to ratify the election of Velasco as the new Speaker, which was first done on Monday at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
Cayetano apologized to his supporters and thanked his staff for all their help in fulfilling the task of a Speaker.
“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.
He likewise expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for his support in the last 15 months of the 18th Congress.
No less President Duterte brokered the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco. Velasco will be serving the House in the next 21 months.
Cayetano apologized to President Duterte for “misunderstanding” that the latter wanted him to finish the budget deliberations before relinquishing his post.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko talaga, I was to handle the budget and I was told until matapos ‘yung budget para walang disruption and I invited Congressman Velasco to join me,” Cayetano said.
“Mr. President, if I made a mistake, mali ang reading ko, misunderstood ko na gusto mong ituloy at tapusin ko ang budget, ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin. Hindi ko intention—never—na hindi ka sundin,” he added.
Cayetano lamented the recent divide among President Duterte’s allies in the House due to the speakership row, saying that only those in the opposition are benefitting from it.
He also thanked his “remaining friends” in various political parties and party-lists.