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Velasco new house speaker

Martin Romualdez
ROMUALDEZ WITH SPEAKER VELASCO — House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez (2nd left) is shown with new House Speaker Lord Alan Velasvo (2nd right), 1 Pacman Party Michael Romero(left) and Rep.Wilter Sharky Palma (right) before the 3 p.m. session at the plenary of the House of Representatives. Photo by VER NOVENO

OUTGOING Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday resigned from his post after apologizing to President Rodrigo Duterte for “misunderstanding” that he had to finish budget deliberations before stepping down as House leader.

This developed as allies of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday ratified before the House plenary his election as new Speaker.

A total of 186 lawmakers, the same number that elected him during the rump session last Monday held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza, erased questions over the legality of the previous proceeding installing Velasco as Speaker.

I Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella III presided over the morning session and Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga Rep. Rimpy Bondoc moved for the nominal voting to elect Velasco as the new Speaker.

On his Facebook post, Cayetano issued an apology to Duterte for misunderstanding that he had to finish the passage of the national budget before leaving his post under the gentleman’s agreement.

“Ang pagkakaalam ko talaga, I was to handle the budget and I was told until matapos ‘yung budget para waling disruption and I invited Congressman Velasco to join me,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano clarified that he has no intention of defying Duterte’s order.

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“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,” Cayetano said.

“From the start, I have always said that I will abide by what the President, as leader of our coalition, will say. Today (Tuesday), given the untenable political situation that Congress has been placed, and the possible damage to the country if the 2021 budget is not passed on time – I take his admonition to put aside all politics and focus on the budget to heart, and with this, tender my irrevocable resignation as Speaker of the House of Representatives effective immediately. I go now with a clear conscience. I have done my best, I have given my all, I leave with no regrets, and I hold no rancor in my heart towards anyone,” Cayetano stressed.

“I am thankful for the opportunity that my colleagues have given me to serve this Chamber, and I will cherish the friendships I have made these past months. We are still faced with the daunting tasks of not just helping the country recover from this pandemic, but of also rebuilding the trust of the Filipino people in this, the House of their Representatives. With this act, I am hopeful that it will pave the way for the constitutional transition for the new leadership. I call on my colleagues – let us restore the dignity of Congress as an institution and as a symbol of democracy, and right the wrongs that have been made in the name of partisan politics,” he said.

“For those who have stood by my side through all these – we have fought the good fight, but there must only be one victor – which must be the Filipino people. Words are not enough to express the debt of my, and my family’s gratitude for all you have done. I apologize for not being able to talk to each of you in person, but as I free you from your commitments to me, I stand by those I have made to you. I will fight for you with the same intensity that you have for me. And as I join you now in the trenches, I hope that you will welcome me as warmly as when I was Speaker now that I no longer am. It is a reality in politics, that sometimes knowing when to fold on a good hand is more important than winning the whole pot,” said Cayetano.

“To the Congressional employees and staff, thank you from the bottom of my heart. In the months that we have worked together – including the trying times of this pandemic – I have gained a new level of respect for all of you. Your love and dedication to your work is commendable, and it is as invaluable and indispensable as the work of the Members of this Chamber,” he said.

“Finally, to my fellow citizens, I ask for your continued vigilance in ensuring that we – your public officers – live up to the oaths we have taken. Congress has recently made huge headways in pushing for greater transparency and accountability in the crafting of our laws, let us not allow this to be for nothing. Maraming Salamat aking mga kababayan,” he said.