Velasco elected as new House Speaker

Members of the House of Representatives on Monday formally installed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker, replacing Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

In a remote plenary session at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, Velasco was elected House’s top leader by 186 House members.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza raised the motion to declare the speakership post vacant.

A total of 186 lawmakers voted to accept Atienza’s motion.

The lawmakers then swiftly proceeded to elect a new leader with 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Mikee Romero nominating Velasco to become the next Speaker.

Other representatives also nominated Velasco for the speakership post, 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 sergeant of arms of the House of Representatives.

Prior to this, a manifesto circulated to the media, wherein 187 lawmakers have called to assemble, declare the speakership post vacant, and elect Velasco as the House’s next top leader.

“In accordance with Section 13, Rule 3 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, of the 18th Congress, we call to assemble, move to and cast our vote to declare the position of Speaker VACANT on Monday, October 12, 2020,” the manifesto read.

“Further, also in accordance with the same section, we will move to and cast our vote to declare Representative Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress,” it added.

The lawmakers slammed the move of the House leadership to “unceremoniously” terminate the budget deliberations and approve the 2021 General Appropriations Bill on second reading on October 6.

“The current House leadership deprived the Filipino People of exercising, through their duly-elected Representatives, their right to participate in crafting a national budget that would best serve the country,” they said. “The House members were stripped of their legislative duty to scrutinize the spending plan of various important agencies.”

The lawmakers pointed out that the creation of a “small committee” that will accept alterations to the budget is an “invalid delegation” that effectively railroads and replaces the important budget process, which is comprised of sponsorship, debate, and amendments.

“This act runs contrary to Congress’ responsibility to craft an open, transparent, and meaningful budget that is beneficial to the Filipino people. The power of Congress is bastardized when it was divested from the plenary, in each and every individual legislator, and purposely let to be monopolized by a select few,” they said.

The lawmakers further argued that the act of suspending session from Oct. 6 to Nov. 16 is against the letter and intent of the Constitution and violates the House rules of the 18th Congress.

“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.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, 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. (PNA)

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