23 Velasco allies holding leadership posts prepare to be purged

Published October 3, 2020, 6:09 PM

by Ben Rosario

At least 23 committee chairpersons are currently the targets of loyalty check after a key ally of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano dared them to resign their posts if it is against their will to work together with the House leader’s team.

A day after the Cayetano leadership relieved 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero from his post as deputy speaker, committee chairpersons allied with speakership candidate, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, are anticipating being purged from the House leadership team.

AAMBIS OWA partylist Rep. Sharon Garin said she may be next in the purge list.

Garin, chairperson of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, and Romero were part of the team that backed Velasco during a meeting with President Duterte last Tuesday.

Nationalist People’s Coalition Reps. Mark Enverga of Quezon and Jack Duavit of Rizal were also part of Velasco’s group. Enverga is the chairman of the House Committee on Food and Agriculture while Duavit is a vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.

The NPC is a known loyal backer of Velasco, who heads the PDP-Laban contingent in the Lower House.

On Thursday, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro dared House members occupying key posts in the chamber to give up their positions if they cannot join Cayetano’s call to “unite and work together.”

“But for those who cannot or will not join us in this task – I have one simple request – at dahil mahilig din naman kayo mag-invoke ng palabra de honor, panindigan na ninyo (since you like to invoke ‘word of honor’, stand by it). Resign your leadership positions and let those who are willing to help take over,” said Castro, who replaced Romero.

Castro’s position as chairman of the freshly created Committee on Strategic Intelligence has yet to be named.  

If loyalty was to be the gauge of keeping or dismissing committee chairmen in the Lower House, eight more congressmen who ran and won in the 2019 congressional race as NPC members are in danger of losing their positions.

They are Reps. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the committee on ways and means; Solomon Chungalao, agrarian reform; Manuel Luiz Lopez, Metro Manila development; Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo, Mindanao affairs; Erico Aristotle Aumentado, science and technology; Angelina Tan, health; Victor Yap, information and communications technology; and Noel Villanueva, local government.

Committee chairpersons who ran and won as PDP-Laban congressmen are Reps. Junie Cua, banks and financial intermediaries; Lucy Torres Gomez, disaster resilience; Ma Lucille Nava, population and family relations; Eric Martinez, youth and sports; Divina Grace Yu, interparliamentary affairs; Rosanna Ria Vergara, ethics and privileges; Jesus Suntay, human rights; Eric Olivarez, government enterprises and privatization; Joseph Lara, public information; Elisa Kho, rural development; Sandra Eriguel, social services; Geraldine Roman, veterans affairs and welfare and Ann Hofer, foreign affairs.

The sacking of Romero came as a surprise to many because it was Cayetano who had been insisting on retaining the current leadership composition whether or not he will continue as speaker.

The Taguig-Pateros solon had declared that he expected Velasco not to touch any of the congressmen holding leadership posts should he become the speaker.

Aside from solons holding committee chairmanship, congressmen assigned as deputy speakers, majority leaders and representatives of the Commission on Appointment and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal will remain in their post whoever between the two becomes speaker.