MANILA - House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday gave a rating of 8 out of 10 to the Duterte administration, saying that while no administration is perfect, the Philippines is in a better place than others during the pandemic.
"No administration is perfect. We see that the administration right now came or entered during the pandemic, which no one was expecting, which caught each and every administration in different countries off-guard," he told ANC's Headstart.
Velasco said the administration "tried to do a lot" at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, "but there is still a lot of criticism." However, comparing the situation in the country to that in Malaysia and Indonesia where there is a spike in cases due to the Delta variant, he said "we’re actually at a better place."
"At the end of the day, the pandemic really hurt us a lot. No one was ready for it and because of that I cannot give the administration a perfect grade…But looking at where the Philippines is right now, I guess they’re doing a really good job," he said.
He said most criticisms are only given on "hindsight" because "we really don't know how to handle a pandemic." He added, although the lockdowns imposed are often criticized, these actually "kept the surge of infections at bay."
Velasco said to be better prepared for another pandemic, he is looking to work on laws creating the Philippines' institute for virology and a center for disease control in the final months of President Rodrigo Duterte's term.
THE LAST SPEAKER IN THIS ADMINISTRATION
Velasco, who represents the lone district of Marinduque, is the fourth House lawmaker to hold the leadership position during Duterte's term.
He was put in power in October last year after a tussle with his predecessor, Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros. Duterte originally brokered a term-sharing deal between the 2, but Cayetano wanted to stay at the helm until the end of 2020 supposedly to pass the budget. He was eventually ousted after a vote by 186 legislators.
"Hopefully, I'll sit as the last speaker until the end of the 18th Congress," said Velasco.
"I just want to be remembered as someone who was able to unite Congress at a time when there’s a lot of dynamics in Congress, differing interests and different political parties...One of the traits I guess that I have that united all of us is I am actually a listening leader. I listen to each and every member of Congress as to their needs," he said.
Velasco also confirmed that he will be seeking reelection next year and will not run for higher office.
"I still have one term. People are speculating that I might go for a higher position but definitely I still have a lot to finish in my province so I would want to finish first and work for my province of Marinduque," he said.
Asked if he will vie for speakership in the next Congress, he said that would depend on whether or not he would have the support of the majority of House lawmakers.
"If I have that, then definitely I would still gun for the speakership," he said.