Velasco assumes as new House Speaker

MANILA — Filipinos now feel assured the House will pass the 2021 National Budget after Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco assumed as new House Speaker  at the resumption of the chamber’s session Tuesday.

Until Tuesday morning they were unsure what to expect when the House resumes sessions after 186 Congress members formally installed Velasco as the new House Speaker, in a plenary session held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, replacing Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza moved to declare the speakership post vacant which was accepted and voted on by a total of 186 lawmakers. They then went on to elect Velasco, who was nominated by 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, as the new House Speaker. 

Velasco was also nominated by other bloc representatives including Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, and Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez, among others.

During the same gathering, lawyer Jocelia Bighani-Sipin was elected as Secretary General and retired police Maj. Gen. Mao Aplasca was installed as Sergeant at Arms.

Prior to the “rebel” session, a manifesto was circulated among media reporters. The manifesto, signed by 187 lawmakers called their peers to assemble, declare the speakership post vacant, and elect Velasco as the House’s next top leader.

Observers said Cayetano’s “irrevocable resignation” on Tuesday was in fact unnecessary after lawmakers he banked on to support him switched side to Velasco. His harsh words for his successor following his ouster linger in the people’s mind.

 “As we remain steadfast in our duty, we believe that the House of Representatives needs a true leader who can inspire, and not discourage colleagues; a leader who can unite, and not divide the House; a leader with a heart of a public servant, and not with a heart of a tyrant; a leader who listens and empowers others, and not just to a clique who builds walls to shun others; and a leader who is committed to serving the people rather than serving his self-interest and personal ambition,” the lawmakers said in their manifesto calling themselves to a special out Congress last Monday.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, at the start of the current 18th Congress, 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 18th Congress ends in 2022.

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