Velasco allies stripped of chairmanship posts

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    THE House leadership yesterday stripped of chairmanship posts two lawmakers perceived to be against the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who is said to be subject of an ouster plot allegedly hatched by the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco.

    On the motion of deputy majority leader Jesus Crispin Remulla of Cavite, the plenary removed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as chair of the appropriations committee and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon as member of the House contingent to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

    Ungab was replaced by ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, a close friend of presidential son and deputy speaker Paolo Duterte, while Leachon was replaced by Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo.

    Since Yap now chairs a bigger panel, he was replaced by Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos as chair of the committee on games and amusement of which Yap was also elected as vice chair.

    Ungab was kicked out as chair of the appropriations panel after Cayetano announced last week that Velasco’s camp was behind moves to “sabotage” this year’s P4.1-trillion national budget, the source of all the districts’ congressional allocations.

    Ungab is close to presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who was against Cayetano’s assumption of the speaker’s post in July last year.

    Ungab said, “I believe that the only guide to a man is his conscience, and the truth will always prevail no matter what. I have served my country and people well to the utmost of my ability. I accept my fate and so be it.”

    Leachon, Velasco’s party mate in the ruling party PDP-Laban, was ousted as HRET member after a heated exchange with deputy speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, Cayetano’s party mate in the Nacionalista Party.

    Leachon on Sunday slammed Villafuerte for saying that congressmen should just scuttle the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco because of the supposed ouster plot.

    Cayetano is supposed to end his term as speaker in October.

    ‘DRAMA’

    Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza Jr. said Cayetano’s camp is planning to have all positions declared vacant to pave the way for a new election to solidify his hold on power and do away with the term-sharing agreement.

    “Sasabihin ko na sa inyo, gumagawa ng drama ito, (I tell you, they are creating a drama) then he will be the one to move for a declaration of positions vacant. Why? Because he wants an election now, and not to honor the agreement that he entered into,” he told reporters.

    Atienza said the Speaker “now he believes he has the number.”

    “If he follows the (term-sharing) agreement, he will have to step down so pinili niya ipilit yung eleksyon na ‘yan (so he chose to force an election),” he said.

    SMC BEHIND COUP?

    Cayetano said the coup was hatched because of the House leadership’s investigation into the P95 billion in debts that power generators owe government.

    He said Velasco’s camp was merely using the delay in House action on bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. as an issue to oust him.

    One of the companies being investigated by a House joint committee is the South Premier Power Corp. (SPPC), an affiliate of San Miguel Corp. of businessman Ramon Ang who is close to Velasco and wife Rowena.

    Cayetano said Velasco’s camp would not admit that the coup was triggered by the probe of the committees on public accounts and on good government and public accountability.

    Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso earlier slammed the decision of Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 208 to entertain a case filed by the South Premier Power Corp., contesting P23.9 billion in accumulated billings sent to it by state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. for SPPC’s administration of the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan power plant in Batangas.

    SPPC was prompted to seek legal remedy after the PSALM unilaterally cancelled in 2015 the private firm’s administrator contract to operate the Ilijan power plant and demanded the payment of P23.9 billion in alleged unpaid obligations to the government.

    The Mandaluyong City court has prohibited PSALM from terminating its contract with SPPC.