MANILA (UPDATE) — A close ally of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano was ousted from his leadership post Wednesday, a day after majority of lawmakers voted to install Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte was removed as Deputy Speaker and will be replaced by 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, an ally of the new Speaker.
Villafuerte was one of the last few lawmakers who defended Cayetano until he was removed from the Speakership.
Villafuerte had earlier mocked Monday's election of Velasco as the new House head, calling it "ridiculous" and "unconstitutional."
Following his removal, Villafuerte accused the new leadership of "rejecting" their "offers of cooperation."
"If the intention of removing me was to intimidate all those who remain loyal to former Speaker Cayetano, then they have miscalculated badly. Their vindictiveness merely shows that we were right all along, and exposes the kind of 'leadership' we can expect," he said in a statement.
Romero himself had lost his Deputy Speaker post last Friday during the height of the leadership row, upon the orders of Cayetano.
Aside from Romero, another Velasco ally, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, will take over Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte's Senior Deputy Speaker post.
Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News
Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte's son, was handed on Tuesday the chairmanship of the plum House Committee on Accounts.
The panel is mandated "to deal with all matters directly and principally relating to the internal budget of the House including budget preparation, submission and approval, disbursements, accounting, and financial operations," according to the House website.
Aside from them, House members on Tuesday also elected Ilocos Sur 2nd District Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Accounts.
Another major House panel, the Committee on Health, got a new chairman in Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Helen Tan, who is replacing Guimaras Rep. Ma. Lucille Nava.
Earlier Wednesday, Cayetano was urging Velasco not to mess with the House leadership posts, invoking their "gentleman's agreement" he himself had earlier tried to defy.
"I am just asking Cong. Velasco na sabi mo sa akin palabra de honor, palabra de honor din sa side nyo dahil malinaw na sinabi ng ating pangulo na walang disruptions, so walang palitan ng kahit sinong chairmanship at leadership sa Kongreso," Cayetano said Wednesday in a Facebook live.
(I am just asking Cong. Velasco, you told me to have word of honor, I'm also asking word of honor from your side because we told the President very clearly that there shall be no disruptions, no changes in chairmanship, leadership in Congress.)
Cayetano had earlier sought to extend his stay at the House helm until December, citing the 2021 budget, even as Velasco was due to take his place this month under a term-sharing agreement. — with reports from RG Cruz and Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News