Lawmakers vote to install Velasco as House Speaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 01:26 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2020 02:11 PM

The tussle for the House Speakership continues as Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is elected to the post during a session outside the Batasang Pambansa. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATED) - Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco was "elected" House Speaker Monday after some 186 lawmakers declared the position vacant, ousting Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

The lawmakers gathered at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City with a version of the House mace, the symbol of the authority of the chamber which should be present during sessions.

Velasco assumed the position a day before Congress convened for a special session to resume budget deliberations.

Velasco already took his oath as Speaker of the House.

"I accept this one in a lifetime challenge to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress. I will not let you down, you have my word. Maraming salamat po," he said.

The congressman also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte and the chief executive's children Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte, along with the President's long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.

"Ako'y nagpapasalamat sa ating mahal na Pangulo, a man of his word, may isang salita. (Para) sa mabuting halimbawa and for inspiring young government servants like me na hindi hadlang ang pagiging probinsiyano para tayo ay makapagserbisyo," Velasco said.

(I thank our dear President, who is a man of his word, who has a single word. For serving as a good example and for inspiring young government servants like me that being from the province will not hinder us to serve.)

"Na ang iyong probinsyano congressman (That a congressman) from a small province like Marinduque can be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives."

The President last year brokered a term-sharing deal between Velasco and Cayetano, with the latter supposed to lead the House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until this month, while the former will assume leadership for the next 21 months. 

The lawmakers at the venue also elected new House officials with Mao Aplasca as the Sergeant-at-arms and Jocelia Bighani Sibin as Secretary-General.

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Cayetano, in a press briefing during the supposed session outside Batasan Pambansa, told the 186 congressmen to give him "a fighting chance to pass this budget."

"Don’t throw the Constitution away, don’t throw it into the waste basket…vision po yan ng Pilipino (it's the vision of the Filipino). We took an oath, whether the oath favors me or not I will still follow Congress," he said.

"I will not allow you to burn this House down… marami na akong Goliath na kinalaban (I have fought many Goliaths). You’re in for one hell of a fight."

House Sergeant at Arms Ramon Apolinario earlier said the official mace of the chamber was in his custody.

"That is not the official mace," he said of the mace at the plaza.

The congressmen's headquarters at the Batasan Pambansa is closed as it wasn't fumigated because there was no session scheduled Monday, House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales said hours before the gathering.

"The Plenary is closed because there is no session today. Power is turned off because there is no session. Same with internet which is open to other offices that are open," he said.

The move to oust Cayetano came after President Rodrigo Duterte's PDP-Laban and its regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, headed by Duterte-Carpio, called on lawmakers to honor the term-sharing agreement between Velasco and Cayetano.

Velasco and Duterte-Carpio had met last Friday, with the latter saying the lawmaker sought her help on the Speakership vote.

In 2018, Duterte-Carpio was widely credited for the ouster of then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his replacement by former President and then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

-- With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News