MANILA, Philippines – Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco promises to be a “consensus builder” should he be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in the next 18th Congress.
The aspiring leader of the House discussed how his leadership style would be on Tuesday, May 28, as the speakership race continues in the lower chamber.
“My colleagues, I know them for a couple of years already. They already know me. I’m a friendly guy. I listen to people. So my type of leadership would be consensus builder. I’ll be a listening Speaker,” he added.
Velasco said he had long been considering gunning for the speakership, citing “frustrations” he had with the leaderships of incumbent Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the person she replaced, ousted speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.
“It’s actually more of frustrations. Frustrations mainly because in the past few years, we’ve heard about zero budget given to some of the congressmen. I wasn’t for that actually,” said Velasco, referring to congressmen’s discontent against Alvarez for removing huge allocations for opposition lawmakers during his time.
“And then we were hearing stories during GMA’s time that some of the congressmen’s budget were slashed. So it was really mostly frustration,” said Velasco.
The passage of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 was delayed after the House was accused of pork barrel insertions worth P95.37 billion, which were eventually vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte. More than half of the vetoed projects fell under the local roads program which amounted to P40.27 billion. (READ: Winners and losers under Duterte's 2019 budget)
Now, Velasco is vowing that no lawmaker’s budget would be slashed should he become Speaker.
“My promise to my colleagues: I will not slash any budget that’s allotted to their districts. Because I’m a district congressman, I know how important it is to have a budget for my district because each district has its own needs. So definitely I have to protect the budget for each district of each congressman,” said Velasco.
Sara's support 'sealed the deal'
The Marinduque congressman is believed to have the coveted support of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, who had repeatedly endorsed his speakership bid on the 2019 campaign trail.
Duterte had been instrumental in the ouster of Alvarez, who is now seeking the speakership once again.
“Back in November, she already endorsed me. That surprised me also. And during the HNP (Hugpong ng Pagbabago) sorties, she endorsed me again. I guess that really sealed the deal,” said Velasco of the presidential daughter’s support.
He is in a tough fight, however, as 7 other prominent or returning legislators are being floated for the speakership race.
Apart from Velasco and Alvarez, there is incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, whose speakership bid was promoted by Duterte in March. Romualdez is expected to get the backing of Arroyo, his close ally.
Velasco and Alvarez are also two of the 4 candidates for speaker who are being considered by the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. The other two are Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales and Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario.
The President’s eldest son, incoming Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, supposedly wants to join the race as well, though the family patriarch is against it. He also denied interest. (READ: Duterte tells Paolo: Vie for speakership, I'll resign)
Another Duterte ally, former foreign secretary and incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, previously announced his interest to become speaker.
Lastly, outgoing senator and incoming Antique Representative Loren Legarda’s name has been floating among the possible contenders in the speakership race. – Rappler.com