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House ratifies election of Velasco as Speaker

The House of Representatives on Tuesday made official the election of Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco as Speaker of the House.

A total of 186 House members voted to ratify the election of Velasco after the same number of lawmakers elected him initially during a gathering of his supporters at Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City on Monday.

The ratification was held at the House Plenary Hall ahead of the expected resumption of the session at 3 p.m. to tackle the 2021 national budget.

As this was happening, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano tendered his irrevocable resignation as House Speaker.

Cayetano also apologized to his supporters and staff, and thanked the President for the opportunity to be leader of the House.



Malacañang on Tuesday congratulated Velasco.

“Our congratulations to the new Speaker of the House, [Marinduque] Congressman Lord Allan Velasco, but as I said, that’s a decision of the House of Representatives which the President respects,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a news conference.

'Word of honor'

In his first speech as officially-elected Speaker, Velasco underscored the virtue of "word of honor," which he has been espousing amid the speakership row between him and Cayetano.

He apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte over the "perceived" rejection of the agreement he himself 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?" he 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.

At the same time, Velasco stressed the need to restore the "sense of statesmanship" at the House.

"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 said.

"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," he added.

'More than 200' votes

Following Velasco's speech, Deputy Majority Leader Juan Pablo "Rimpy" Bondoc informed the body that there were "more than 200" lawmakers who wanted to vote to ratify Velasco's election at the plenary.

He said these lawmakers were not able to vote due to restrictions on travel and difficulty in establishing Internet connectivity.

"In the interest of the truth, in the interest of queuing to the rules, we have used the number of 186 which since yesterday have manifested their vote for you," Bondoc said.

"But rest assured, more than 200 of our colleagues have sent in their votes for you, we acknowledge them and they are part of our new majority," he added.

Representatives of various bloc and political parties at the House then expressed their support for Velasco.

They were Representatives Jocelyn Limkaichong (Liberal Party), Mikee Romero (Party-list Coalition), Jack Duavit (Nationalist People's Coalition), Divine Yu (Mindanao Bloc), Doy Leachon (PDP-Laban), Manny Lopez (Metro Manila bloc), Kiko Benitez (Visayan bloc), Esmael Mangudadatu (BARMM), Isidro Ungab (Hugpong ng Pagbabago), and Alfredo Garbin Jr. (Bicol Region bloc).

Settling the issue

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy earlier said they wanted to settle the speakership issue before the special session so that they can focus on the budget.

"Ang sabi naman nila, 3 p.m. pa ang simula ng budget. Kaya gusto namin ngayong umaga, tapusin na natin 'yung labanan sa Speaker para once and for all we can continue and concentrate on the budget as requested by the President and our job to the Filipino people," she added.

The developments came as both Cayetano and Velaso were called to a meeting by Duterte in Malacañang early afternoon.

Roque said the President's meeting with Cayetano and Velasco is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the Malacañang Golf Club. Roque said the meeting will focus on the passage of the proposed P4.506-trillion budget. — KG/RSJ, GMA News