Romualdez honors outgoing House Speaker Velasco

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2022 08:50 PM

MANILA - Outgoing House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco was honored Wednesday, the final session day of the 18th Congress, by Majority Leader and the only candidate for the chamber's leadership in the 19th Congress, Rep. Martin Romualdez.

Romualdez, who was once a rival of Velasco for the House leadership, sponsored the adoption of a resolution honoring the Marinduque lawmaker, part of its ritual every time Congress ends its term.

“The Honorable Speaker, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I rise with utmost honor and privilege to sponsor Resolution No. 2604, commending the Honorable Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco for his exemplary and dynamic leadership during the most part of the Second Regular Session and the Third Regular Session of the 18th Congress,” Romualdez said in his speech.

“Given his commitment to uphold the highest standards of public service, Speaker Velasco skillfully navigated the House of Representatives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse impacts on our economy and society."

"He faithfully discharged the mandate of his office with excellence, integrity, and composure during this tumultuous times. Speaker Velasco rose to the occasion with ingenuity, strength, and determination,” Romualdez added.

The incoming House leader said Velasco proved himself as a compassionate and collaborative leader by putting the health and safety of all House members, employees, and guests at the forefront of his priorities.

“Strict health and safety protocols, mass vaccination and regular COVID-19 antigen testing are provided for all House members and employees, premises. Including guests who enter the House. He also brought about improvements and construction of essential facilities for the comfort and convenience of House members, personnel, and guests. Speaker Velasco displayed an inclusive consultative brand of leadership. He rallied the House members to maintain a dynamic but respectful exchange of insights amidst the difficult situation of attending sessions remotely,” Romualdez said.

Velasco, for his part, paid tribute to his colleagues.

“Let it be of record that the 18th Congress was a key and steady partner of the Executive Department under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in passing laws that promoted economic development, strengthened the administration of justice and the rule of law, enhanced the protection of labor and social welfare, improved the quality of and increased access to education and information, enhanced our health and emergency response system, and strengthened our political and governmental institutions,“ he said in his own speech.

Velasco remembered lawmakers who died during their term.

“All honor goes to our House members, especially our ‘senior’ House members, who have worked doubly hard during these times. We also continue to honor our colleagues who have given their lives for public service and have gone before us during this term: Representatives Sion Acop, Manong Rudy Albano, Marissa Andaya, Charlie Cojuangco, Manong Jun Datol, Tito Raul Del Mar, Nestor Fongwan, Marisol Panotes, and Ditas Ramos. You served as our collective inspiration to continue our work for the people,“ he said.

Velasco touted what he believes are their legislative achievements.

“We have passed key economic laws – our “Tulong” bills - that are expected to facilitate our recovery from the pandemic including the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act. The passage of this trifecta of economic liberalization laws marks an important landmark in our bid to ease restrictions and will help bring in projected investment leads of $100 billion over a two-year period, and create more jobs for Filipinos that would help drive the economic recovery of our country,“ he said.

He mentioned the other achievements of the House of Representatives, which include the passing of "Tugon" measures such as the Vaccine Procurement Law, Streamlining Government Services in Times of National Emergency Act, Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health Care Workers Act, other social consumer and protection laws, as well as the timely passing of the 2021 and 2022 national budgets.

He cited the passing of "Tatag" bills, which include strengthening the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act (RA 11768), the Excellence in Teacher Education Act (RA 11713), Republic Act 11709 which creates fixed terms for key officers of the armed forces, and Republic Act 11697 which paves the way for the development of electric vehicle industry in the country.

“We have passed what I call our “Malasakit” laws such as RA 11767, which seeks to promote the rights of foundlings or abandoned children; RA 11650 which would ensure inclusive education for learners with disabilities; and RA 11648 which seeks to provide stronger protection for children against sexual abuse and exploitation by raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16. Finally, we have also passed laws that promote justice and peace, such as the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, and RA 11696 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act,“ Velasco said.

There was no mention of Velasco's predecessor, Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, who served as House Speaker from July 2019 until October 2020.

Cayetano and Velasco shared the Speakership of the 18th Congress under a deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte which also resulted in Romualdez’ Majority Leadership. All three vied to be Speaker.

When Cayetano’s 18-month share in the Speakership was up, he offered to resign from the post but it was rejected by his colleagues in a controversial session that derailed the passage of the budget that year. Velasco’s allies then successfully sought to enforce the term-sharing deal.

Following the honors on Wednesday, the House of Representatives adjourned its 3rd Regular Session for the 18th Congress, Sine Die.

Although their terms as congressmen will end only on June 30, the House will no longer have plenary sessions and committee deliberations. 

Congressmen elected in the 2022 elections will start their terms on June 30, with the 1st Regular Session of the 19th Congress opening on the fourth Monday of July.

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