Ve­lasco of­fers olive branch to Cayetano

Choice of deputy speaker or com­mit­tee head

The Manila Times - - Front Page - BY DIVINA NOVA JOY DELA CRUZ

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.

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