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Villar declines deputy speaker post

A FEW hours after her designation as Deputy Speaker, Deputy Majority Leader and Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar on late Wednesday night politely declined the assignment given to her by the House leadership under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Villar, daughter of former Speaker and ex-Senate President Manny Villar, appealed to the House leadership that her letter to Velasco may be read soonest in the plenary and be reflected on the records of the chamber.

“It is an opportune time to work with my fellow congressmen and the leaders of the House of Representatives on policy measures that would give personal and economic relief to our kababayans amid the past disasters and the pandemic. But the greater tact is adherent responsibility to our constituents, and the constant affinity to the leadership and nation,” Villar said in her letter, copies of which were furnished to House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and House Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Stephen “Caraps” Paduano.

She expressed gratitude to Velasco for the trust and confidence extended to her, but stressed that she cannot accept the designation to replace former Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu who is a stalwart of their Nacionalista Party (NP).

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the honor and opportunity offered me. Allow me, however, to humbly decline the nomination and designation as Deputy Speaker,” said Villar.

She reiterated her commitment to support the leadership of Velasco.

“Rest assured that I am committed to your goals as a partner in development and will support your legislative agenda in the formation of a Congress of the people,” said Villar. “My sincere gratitude and appreciation.”

On Wednesday night, the House of Representatives also elected former Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro “Dong” Mendoza as its new Secretary-General, after Atty. Jocelia Bighani Sipin tendered her resignation earlier in the day.

Sipin will assume a new position as Deputy Secretary General to work closely with Velasco and oversee the affairs of his office.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (BUHAY) party-list Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza were also elected Deputy Speakers along with Villar.

The legislative chamber also elected Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo as chairman of the Committee on Energy; Caloocan City 1st District Rep. Dale “Along” Malapitan as head of the House contingent to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal replacing Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo; and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap as vice-chair of the Committee on Accounts.

The House also appointed Velasco as caretaker of Cebu City’s 1st District in light of the death of Rep. Raul Del Mar.

Velasco’s designation as caretaker was “upon the wishes of the late Rep. Del Mar, as communicated by his family and constituency.”

Rodriguez, known as one of House’s own legal luminaries, was elected to replace Capiz 2nd District Rep. Fredenil Castro.

At the same time, the House elected Atienza as deputy speaker replacing Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez.