Velasco is new PH House Speaker, Cayetano resigns

Newly installed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco bangs the gavel during the opening of a special session called by the Chief Executive for the passage of the 2021 National Budget at the House of Representatives, Batasan Hills, Quezon City on Tuesday, October 13. | PNA photo by Avito Dalan

The Philippine House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 13, ratified the election of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new speaker, unseating Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

In a plenary session inside the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, a total of 186 House members voted to ratify Velasco’s election in a bid to remove doubts over the legality of Monday’s plenary session at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City where the same number of lawmakers elected Velasco for speakership.

“This is for our people, for this august body and the institution we call Congress, for the word of honor of our beloved President Duterte, and for God who makes all this happen, we will not let you down!” Velasco vowed as the new House leader.

He also stressed the importance of “word of honor,” apologizing to President Rodrigo Duterte over the “perceived rejection” of the term-sharing agreement that the Chief Executive brokered.

“A rejection of the agreement is a rejection of palabra de honor, and likewise a rejection of Mayor-President Rodrigo Duterte himself. If this agreement is honored in the breach, what future agreement will not be subjected to doubt and disbelief owing to our failure to honor it?” Velasco said.

“Let us show our countrymen that loyalty and fidelity to the promises we make are not mere conveniences for us. Let us be good examples of palabra de honor, and demonstrate that our word is our bond,” he added.

Resignation

Cayetano tendered his irrevocable resignation as House Speaker following the ratification of Velasco’s election.

“From the start I have always said that I will abide by what the president, as leader of our coalition, will say,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

“Today, 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,” he added.

Cayetano also said he is leaving his post without any regrets.

“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,” he said.

Last week, Duterte directed Cayetano and Velasco to resolve the matter before it affects the timely passage of the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021.

He also called on Congress to conduct a special session on Oct. 13 to 16 to resume the congressional deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget and to avoid any further delays on its prompt passage.

Cayetano and Velasco are supposed to be in a term-sharing agreement, brokered by Duterte in 2019, where Cayetano will serve as speaker for 15 months before Velasco takes over for the remaining 21 months of their term.

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