More Cayetano allies removed from key positions in Velasco's House

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2020 08:16 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2020 03:42 PM

MANILA - The ax has fallen on House leaders who opposed the election of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco a month since he assumed the top post of the House of Representatives.

In one of its last acts for the day, the House, upon the motion of House Deputy Majority Floor Leader XJ Romualdo who led the floor at the session, on Wednesday unanimously elected Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez as Deputy Speaker, replacing Capiz 2nd District Rep. Fredenil Castro; Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza as Deputy Speaker, replacing Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez; and Camille Villar as Deputy Speaker, replacing Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu.

Castro and Fernandez openly campaigned for the retention of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who was ousted last month after initially attempting to stay at the House helm despite a term-sharing agreement with Velasco. 

It may be recalled that Castro and Fernandez delivered stinging privilege speeches hitting Velasco’s fitness for the Speakership, experience and work ethic. Abu, meanwhile, is also known as a staunch Cayetano ally.

Under House Rules, the Deputy Speaker chosen by a majority of the Deputy Speakers from among themselves shall assume the duties and powers of the Speaker when the latter is absent or temporarily incapacitated. 

Should a day lapse without an Acting Speaker having been chosen by a majority of the Deputy Speakers, they shall proceed to choose an Acting Speaker by lot from among themselves. They can also preside over the session when, even if present, the Speaker does not preside, or has not designated any other Member as temporary presiding officer as provided in Section 15(h) of Rule IV.

They can also monitor, coordinate and facilitate action on measures filed, requests, and other concerns of members representing constituencies to which they may be assigned by the Speaker. 

They also recommend to the Speaker appropriate policies, strategies and programs of action to improve the process of legislation and the quality of legislative measures, and to effectively address concerns of Members on matters affecting them, their constituencies, and the overall operations and integrity of the House. 

The plenary also elected Caloocan Rep. Dale Along Malapitan as head of the contingent to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal vice Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo, another staunch Cayetano ally.

Meanwhile, elected in the same batch were Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo as Chairman of the Energy Committee vice Velasco who, as Speaker, now has a voice and vote in all House panels. Arroyo already headed the committee in his previous term in Congress. Prior to his election, he served as the panel's senior vice chair.

ACT CIS Rep. Eric Yap got an additional position as vice chair of the Committee on Accounts, which manages internal finances of the House. The panel is currently chaired by Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte.

Velasco, meanwhile, was designated as caretaker of the late Cebu City First District Rep. Raul del Mar’s district upon the wishes of his family.

Before these, Secretary General Jocelia Bighani Sipin resigned her post, paving the way for the election of former Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza as Secretary General.

Prior to her stint as Secretary General, Sipin was Velasco’s long time congressional chief of staff.

Earlier in the session, the House Minority Bloc also made changes to its leadership positions following the election of Abang Lingkod Party List Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano as Minority Leader last month.

Upon a motion of Deputy Minority Leader Kit Belmonte during the plenary session Wednesday afternoon, the House elected Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo as Deputy Minority Leader, vice Paduano. Kalinga Party List Rep. Irene Gay Saulog replaced Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves as Assistant Minority Leader, and APEC Party List Rep. Sergio Dagooc as Assistant Minority Leader replacing Quimbo.

They will all sit as minority members of the House Committee on Rules, which decides on the agenda of the House, led by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

Teves was replaced by RECOBODA Rep. Godofredo Guya as minority member for the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

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