Palace congratulates House Speaker Velasco

Published October 13, 2020, 3:49 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang has congratulated newly elected House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on his assumption of the top post, saying it looks forward to working with its close ally to advance the administration’s legislative agenda.

After the leadership dispute at the Lower House has been settled, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte has become “very optimistic” about the passage of the proposed P4.506 trillion national budget for next year.

“Our congratulations then to the new Speaker of the House, Congressman Lord Allan Velasco,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

“We look forward to working closely with Speaker Lord Allan Velasco because he is also a very close ally of this administration. At tingin ko magpapatuloy ang buong kooperasyon ng Ehekitubo at Kongreso under the leadership of Congressman Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (And I think the full cooperation between the executive and Congress will continue under the leadership of Congressman Speaker Lord Allan Velasco),” he said.

Majority of lawmakers have elected Velasco as the new Speaker during an assembly at a sports club in Quezon City on Monday, replacing Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. His election has been ratified by the members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The House leadership change came after President Duterte cautioned lawmakers to resolve their impasse and pass the 2021 national budget or else he would do it for them. He has already called for a special session of Congress to ensure the budget bill’s timely approval as the feud between Cayetano and Velasco threatened to derail the deliberations.

Roque dispelled speculations that the President had a hand in the election of Velasco, saying Duterte respects the separation of powers among co-equal branches of government. 

He said the President has always viewed the leadership conflict as an internal matter of the Lower House. He added that the Palace will also respect the “wish” of the lawmakers on who will be their Speaker. 

“If it is true that it has been ratified, then so be it,” he said about the election of Velasco. 

“In Avelino vs Cuenco, the Supreme Court ruled that only the members of the House and the Senate can determine their leadership. Good luck to those elected and congratulations to those elected by their peers in the House of Representatives,” he added.

Roque also thanked lawmakers for heeding the President’s call to set aside politics and pass the national budget for 2021.  He also relayed the Palace’s gratitude to Cayetano who served as Speaker in the past year.

“Now the President is very optimistic na mapapasa ‘yan dahil naisantabi na ang pulitika (it will be passed because they have set aside politics) and they can now concentrate on the [bill’s] passage,” he said.