Velasco to take over as Speaker on Oct. 14

By: DJ Yap - Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 30,2020 - 06:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Oct. 14, following President Duterte’s intervention in the simmering feud, the Inquirer learned on Tuesday night.

The President met with Velasco and incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano at Malacanang with their respective backers to settle, once and for all, the two men’s simmering feud over the leadership of the 300-member chamber.

Multiple sources confirmed to the Inquirer that the parties reached an agreement, in the presence of the President, to honor their original “15-21” term-sharing deal, in which Cayetano would serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress with Velasco taking over for the remaining 21 months.

The turnover will take place on Oct. 14, one of the House insiders said. No other details were immediately available. Cayetano’s camp did not respond to requests for confirmation or comment.

“Tapos na po ang [laban] (the fight is over). #1521,” Ron Munsayac, executive director and public information office chair of Velasco’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), wrote on Twitter, using a boxing glove emoji.

Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party and has, in recent days, sought to consolidate his alliances in the coalition, including with National Unity Party, Lakas-CMD, and allied party-list groups.

Velasco, on the other hand, fought to secure the backing of people close to Mr. Duterte. He and his wife Rowena Velasco are close to the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

A source earlier told the Inquirer that the younger Duterte would be in the Malacanang meeting to support Velasco’s cause. “No comment,” the mayor replied when reached for comment.

It was Mr. Duterte who forced the two rivals to come to the original deal in July 2019, shortly before Cayetano began his term.

The resolution ended days of rumors and speculations about the speakership.

But whether the Tuesday agreement would be followed remains to be seen, as manifestos from various political blocs had been issued in recent days, calling for Cayetano’s retention as Speaker amid the pandemic.

Still, the meeting has settled the question of the President’s thoughts on the speakership issue.

In a meeting with House and Senate leaders in Malacañang on Sept. 16, the President left an enigmatic comment, “Kawawa naman si Lord (pitiful Lord),” which had drawn varying interpretations from the two camps.

Tension has filled the House since hostilities between Cayetano and Velasco erupted last week over the supposed partisan and inequitable distribution of public works allocations to districts and regions in the proposed 2021 budget. / ac

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