Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco was elected Speaker by 186 legislators during a gathering at Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on Monday, and this was ratified on Tuesday at the Batasang Pambansa.
As this happened, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano tendered his irrevocable resignation as Speaker.
The development came almost two weeks after some legislators rejected Cayetano’s offer to resign as Speaker following his privilege speech against Velasco.
Velasco and Cayetano are parties to the term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte in July last year. Under the agreement, Cayetano will hold the speakership for 15 months and Velasco will take over to finish the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Who is Velasco?
Velasco, 42, is a lawyer by profession, according to a report by Bam Alegre on GMA News' Unang Balita on Wednesday.
He is the son of retired Supreme Court associate justice and incumbent Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco Jr. and Torrijos, Marinduque Mayor Lorna Velasco.
The lawmaker took up business management at the De La Salle University, graduating in 1997, and obtained his law degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 2004.
Before entering Congress, Velasco worked at the Supreme Court as judicial staff head at the office of this father, and as a provincial administrator of Marinduque.
In 2010, Velasco was elected first district representative of Marinduque. He tried to get reelected in 2013 but lost to Regina Reyes.
Velasco then ran again in 2016 and 2019 and won both instances.
Before being elected as Speaker, Velasco also served as the chair of the House Committee on Energy, the same position he held during the 17th Congress.
According to the House’s official website, among the laws passed by Velasco were Republic Act No. 11462 or the resetting of the Barangay and Sangguinang Kabataan elections originally set on May 2020 to December 5, 2022; RA 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law of 2019; and RA 11470 or the law creating the National Academy of Sports.
Velasco is also the principal author of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Valenzuela City Representative Eric Martinez, a close ally of Velasco, described the new Speaker as 'palakaibigan' or friendly.
"The Speaker, very young at that and idealistic, ang lagi kong sinasabi palakaibigan 'yan," Martinez told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.
"He bears no grudges against anyone. He can play basketball and can talk [about] anything under the sun," he added.
Because of this trait, Martinez believes that Velasco will not hold matters against those who were not supportive of his speakership bid.
"I think the young Speaker knows what he is doing. Mahalaga sa kanya 'yung pagkakaisa. Kaya nga palakaibigan 'to e. Kaya na-endear ang mga kasama namin kay Speaker Velasco," he said.
But while this could be the case, Martinez said it is still important that House members are cooperative with Velasco and his vision for the House of Representatives.
"Mahalaga dito talaga is cooperation and the support to the Speaker, for our country," he said.
"If you feel like you don't belong here and your ideals and what you stand for is not consistent with this young group of guys, on your own, decide. Don't put the pressure on us. You decide on your own and what you believe, 'this is what i stand for,'" Martinez added.
Despite coming a long and difficult way to become the Speaker, what with the tense speakership bout with Cayetano, Velasco believes in reconciliation.
In fact, in his victory speech on Monday, he extended a "healing hand" to Cayetano and his allies and asked him to "step down quietly" from his position so the House could proceed in tackling the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for next year.
"We would want to hold out parang a healing hand to former Speaker Cayetano. Let's stop all this. Nagsalita na ang mayorya ng Kongreso," he said.
"We are asking him to step down quietly, peacefully nang sa gayon ay maumpisahan na namin ang pagdinig sa 2021 budget," he added.
Velasco likewise expressed openness to offer a deputy speaker post to Cayetano.
After meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, Velasco said he and Cayetano have already made amends.
"'Yung nilalabas ko na healing hand kay Speaker Cayetano na kanina nag-usap na kami sa harap ni Pangulo, kami ay nagkasundo, nagkabati na po," he told his fellow lawmakers in a speech on Tuesday.
What Velasco wants, for now, is to restore the "sense of statesmanship" at the House following the lengthy speakership battle which he admitted has "scandalized the nation."
"To this day, there is that sense of reverence to the memory and the legacy of the men and women who once lit up its hallowed halls," he told his colleagues.
"It is incumbent upon each and every one of us who follow in their footsteps to respect their memory by living up to the code of honor to which they swore and lived by," Velasco added. —KG, GMA News