Velasco launches major revamp in Lower House

Published December 7, 2020, 9:53 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives on Monday made a major move to reorganize key positions  as the new management under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco ridded the chamber’s leadership of officials linked to former speaker and  Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, including two of Velasco’s PDP-Laban partymates.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco
(Lord Allan Velasco’s Office / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Nine new deputy speakers were elected by the Malacanang-backed supermajority coalition in the Lower House. 

All nine were rewarded their new post for playing major roles in ensuring Velasco’s assumption of the speakership last October.

Barely a week after being given significant roles in the revamped PDP-Laban leadership now under Senator Manny Pacquiao, Reps. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales of Pampanga and Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur were relieved as deputy speakers in the Lower House.

Last Thursday, Pacquiao, newly elected president of PDP-Laban,  swore into office  Gonzales as the party vice president for Luzon and Pimentel as party chairman  for Caraga region.

However, their being new officers  of the President’s party failed to save them from being relieved by the reorganization team of Velasco, currently PDP-Laban’s executive vice president.

Gonzales was replaced by Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela City Rep. Wes Gatchalian while Pimentel gave way to Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante as deputy speaker.

Nonetheless, Gonzales was elected by the House majority to be chairman of the House Special Committee on Bases Conversion, vice Cavite Rep. Gerald Abaya.

On the other hand, Pimentel was apparently given his comeuppance for having wavered in his support to his partymate, Velasco, during the tumultuous leadership controversy last October. 

Pimentel is now chairman of the House Committee on Strategic Intelligence, a new body that the previous leadership created for Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro. 

Castro, who delivered two privilege speeches containing scathing remarks against Velasco, was appointed deputy speaker by Cayetano but became Velasco’s first reorganization target and was promptly sacked.

Aside from Gonzales and Pimentel, the newly-elected deputy speakers are Reps. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc (Pampanga); Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon Partylist); Kristine Meehan (Ilocos Sur); Devine Grace Yu (Zamboanga del Sur); Rogelio Pacquiao (Saranggani); Arnolfo Teves (Negros Oriental); Eric Martinez (Valenzuela Citry) ; Gatchalian and Abante.
Martinez and Gatchalian represent the two congressional districts comprising Valenzuela City.  

Pacquiao, on the other hand, is the younger brother of Senator Pacquiao.

Also on Monday, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison was appointed member of the House contingent to the influential Commission on Appointments, replacing pro-Cayetano Rep. Benjamin Agarao Jr. of Laguna.

Also elected was Navotas Rep. John Reynaldo Tiangco as chairman of the Committee on Trade and Industry, previously headed by Gatchalian.

La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel, one of the 15 House members reportedly expelled from the National Unity Party for supporting Velasco, became the chairperson of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Diplomacy, replacing Yu.

Taking over the chairmanship of the House Committee on Social Services that was vacated by Eriguel is Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas.

Meanwhile, Pangasinan Rep. Tyrone Agabas was elected deputy majority leader, a position left vacant by Herrera Dy, while Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan was promoted as assistant majority leader, vice Meehan.