Velasco has 154 backers in House, solon claims

Published October 4, 2020, 6:00 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

If Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza’s math is correct, then Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has more or less 154 supporters in the House of Representatives–a number that, if solid, is enough to win him the Speakership vote.

Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco

According to Atienza, 54 of these Velasco backers are from the Party-List Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), which current Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano allegedly irked following 1-PACMAN Party-List Rep. Mikee Romero’s removal as deputy speaker last week. Romero serves as PCFI president.

“Alan (Cayetano) has lost a lot of support (following Romero’s removal as deputy speaker),” Atienza said.

The former Manila mayor said he was also “quite sure” President Duterte’s political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), “will be in support of Velasco,” who is their party-mate. There are 65 PDP-Laban stalwarts in the 299-member Lower Chamber.

“I am sure hindi hihiwalay ang mga political chieftains kay Presidente (the political chieftains won’t leave the President behind),” Atienza said.

Then finally there’s the 35-strong Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), which Atienza claims is also backing Velasco’s bid for the Speakership. These numbers total 154, a slight majority among the sitting congressmen.

If the figure is accurate, the Marinduque solon could theoretically have the Speaker’s seat declared vacant on October 14–the supposed date of the turnover for the Speakership–and win the post in close vote.

“All he (Velasco) has to do is call the smaller groups,” noted Atienza.

Challenging the veracity of Atienza’s count is the fact that 184 House members voted to reject Cayetano’s offer to resign last Wednesday, September 30. The Buhay solon was even one of them, but said he only did so because he reckoned the proper time for the Speaker to resign was on October 14.

However, the plenary rejection took place two days before Romero’s unseating as deputy speaker, which Atienza said came as a result of a “vicious loyalty check” by the Cayetano camp.

Atienza further claimed that many pro-administration lawmakers in the House were dismayed by Cayetano’s continued refusal to honor his term-sharing agreement with Velasco, which many viewed as an open defiance of the President’s will.