At least two congressmen claimed over the weekend that Speakership aspirant, Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has secured enough votes to win the House’s top post, with one of them claiming that he has gained the backing of at least 200 House members.
“At least 200 congressmen have already committed to throw their support for Velasco,” 1-PACMAN Party-List representative and Party-List Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) president, Mikee Romero said on Sunday.
Romero said the number may increase as the expected showdown between Velasco and incumbent Speaker, Taguig-Pateros lone district Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on October 14 nears.
Incidentally, a source told the Manila Bulletin earlier Sunday that pro-Velasco congressmen will try to have the Marinduque lawmaker declared as the new Speaker in plenary at 10 a.m. Monday, even with full knowledge on the current suspension of the sessions. Sessions are scheduled to resume Tuesday, October 13.
Minority member, Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnie Teves told the Manila Bulletin that the Velasco camp already had ample support from House colleagues as early as Saturday morning.
“Sa totoo lang, syempre. Kung numbers lang, mayroon 100 percent (Of course, if we’re talking about numbers, we have it 100 percent),” said Teves, who at that time didn’t give an exact figure.
For Velasco to become House Speaker, he must amass majority support from the 299-member chamber, or in this case, a minimum of 150 backers. From there, he can have the Speakeship declared vacant and then win an election for the coveted seat on the strength of his majority vote.
President Duterte last year brokered the term-sharing pact between his two allies Cayetano and Velasco for the House’s top post. As per the deal, Cayetano will be the Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress while Velasco will serve as the House chief for the succeeding 21 months.
Velasco previously said that his term should have started on September 30. He has since agreed to take over on October 14, a day approved by no less than the Chief Executive.
During plenary session on September 30, Cayetano offered to resign as Speaker but it was reportedly rejected by 184 House members–most of whom were present in Zoom–via a nominal vote.
Teves, along with Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza, has called the voting process a “sham.”
On October 6, the House leadership abruptly approved the P4.5-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on second reading and hastily suspended sessions until November 16 in a move that was seen an attempt to do away with the October 14 session date.
Another Velasco backer, Oriental Mindoro 1st district Rep. Doy Leachon, said that the most honorable thing for Cayetano to do is to honor his “gentleman’s agreement” with Velasco by stepping down as agreed upon on October 14.
“It’s either he steps down and save face or suffer the ignominy of being ousted by his peers in Congress. His time is up,” he added.
The mass exodus of Cayetano allies to the Velasco camp came in the wake of reports that presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has been ringing up political party leaders to rally support for the Marinduque solon.
Duterte-Carpio and Velasco are close friends. In fact Velasco was her horse for the Speakership race last year when it was still being contested by Cayetano; Davao del Norte 1st district representative and former Speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez; and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Cayetano attained the Speakership on the basis of a term-sharing agreement with Velasco.