Velasco offers olive branch to Cayetano
Choice of deputy speaker or committee head
SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco is considering offering the deputy speakership to his rival and predecessor, Taguig-Pateros First District Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
“He’s (Cayetano) the former speaker, and I truly believe that he deserves the position,” Velasco told reporters after the passage of the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget late Friday.
“He can choose either a committee chairmanship or a deputy speaker position,” he added.
The House has 22 deputy speakers, the second highest-ranking officials of the lower chamber that can perform duties of
the speaker in his absence.
In extending a “healing hand” to Cayetano, Velasco said he would personally communicate the offer during the congressional recess.
The two lawmakers reconciled during a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday after 186 lawmakers ratified the election of Velasco and Cayetano resigned from the top post.
The tug-of-war nearly compromised the passage of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill after Cayetano unilaterally approved the national budget and suspended session without completing deliberations on 18 government agencies.
Velasco said there would be no major changes in the House leadership posts at the moment but will look into committees if positions have been distributed fairly.
“During the recess, we will still check the committee memberships kasi sometimes we see namayroong par an gm asmara ming na ku ku hang positions named yo hindi na man fair sa iba ( because sometimes there are lawmakers who have more positions, which isn’t quite fair to the others. So, we will just see kung mayroonnamang unfair namga appointments doon samgaibang committees, pero‘pagwa lana man (if there are unfair appointments in the other committees, but if there aren’t), then they will just remain the same,” he said.
Velasco stressed the need to unite Congress, especially to pass needed legislation while the country reels from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“S a bi kong a po, hindipw ed eng magingi sang Kong re son a wat ak wat ak( As I have said, it couldn’t be a divided Congress),” he said.
“Sapanahonngayon, especially saCov id, kin aka il an gangi isak ami, i sang buoang Kong re son an gs a gay on‘yungpagp as ana min ng mg a bill say ta la gang map a bil is( During these times, especially with Covid, we need to be united, a whole Congress, so that we could pass bills swiftly),” he added.
Cayetano had asked Velasco not to change leadership posts, invoking “palabradehonor” (word of honor) under the term-sharing agreement, which President Rodrigo Duterte had brokered at the start of the 18th Congress. Under the deal, Cayetano was to be speaker for 15 months and Velasco for 21 months.
But in his first week, Velasco has reorganized some of the positions. He installed his PDP-Laban partymate, Oriental Mindoro First District Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon as senior deputy speaker, replacing Davao City First District Rep. Paolo Duterte. The President’s son was elected chairman of the accounts committee, in charge of the House’s internal budget and accounting, and replaced Cavite Eighth District Rep. Abraham Tolentino.
Leachon was booted out as chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal last March, when alleged rumors of a coup against then Speaker Cayetano emerged.
Meanwhile, 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Michael Romero, who was removed under Cayetano’s leadership, was reelected deputy speaker. He replaced Cayetano’s close ally, Camarines Sur Second District Luis Raymund Villafuerte.
Ousted Committee on Health Chairman, Quezon Fourth District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, also regained her post from Guimaras Rep. Lucilla Nava.
Meanwhile, Ilocos Sur Second District Rep. Kristine SingsonMeehan, another Velasco ally, was elected vice chairman of the Committee on Accounts.