RTVM coverage of Velasco's election as Speaker 'does not reflect' partisanship: PCOO official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 07:36 PM

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco takes his oath as the new House Speaker during a special meeting with allied lawmakers at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The live coverage on Monday of the election of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as House Speaker by RTVM, a unit in Malacanang officially tasked to document activities of the Philippine president, "does not reflect" partisanship, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said. 

The RTVM or Radio Television Malacañang had a team at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, as requested by the House back in August, to prepare for the resumption of budget deliberations, said PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan. 

The RTVM team was later "informed to transfer" to the Celebrity Sports Plaza, where Velasco's supporters convened to oust Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and covered the activity there, Ablan said. 

“The RTVM coverage posted this morning on our social media accounts does not reflect the PCOO’s position on the present political situation in the HOR or any partisanship,” Ablan said in a statement. 

“The PCOO and RTVM simply complied to the request for the coverage,” he added. 
 
PCOO oversees the government's broadcasting network and media platforms, on top of handling communication materials for the Office of the President.

President Rodrigo Duterte is not siding with either his political party-mate Velasco or 2016 running mate Cayetano, and is instead urging them to pass the 2021 budget first, said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

Duterte last year forged the two lawmakers' "gentleman's agreement" in which Cayetano was supposed to serve until this month, followed by Velasco for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

However, Cayetano last Tuesday moved to pass the spending bill on second reading and abruptly suspend session until Nov. 16, just before Velasco is supposed to take over the House leadership. 

This spawned concern that the 2021 national budget, which included funds for the coronavirus pandemic, might be delayed. If lawmakers fail to pass the 2021 budget by Dec. 31, the government will rely on a reenacted 2020 spending plan. 

Duterte has certified the budget as urgent and called on Congress to hold a special session from Oct. 13 to 16.

Cayetano claimed a recent agreement forged in Malacanang with Duterte would have Velasco assume the Speakership in December after the budget bill is passed. But Velasco said they agreed in that Sept. 29 meeting that Cayetano will step down on Oct. 14.