Velasco breaks silence, expects to be Speaker late next year

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    MARINDUQUE Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is holding on to his gentleman’s agreement with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who only has 11 months left in office before Velasco takes over the leadership of the House of Representatives.

    “What I know is that an agreement is an agreement. A gentleman’s agreement (and) based on the gentleman’s agreement, I will see you next year as the Speaker of the House,” Velasco told reporters in a chance interview.

    Velasco, chair of the House committee on energy, said he really did not want to comment on the matter because “it’s still so early.”

    However, he stressed that “an agreement is an agreement – a gentleman’s agreement is a gentleman’s agreement.”

    Cayetano wants President Duterte to decide if he will step down after 15 months in office to give way to Velasco, who is set to assume the post for 21 months starting late next year based on their agreement.

    Cayetano has left the decision to the President, especially now that some lawmakers like Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., the president of the National Unity Party (NUP), and Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor have been calling for continuity because of Cayetano’s high ratings in recent surveys.

    The President brokered the term-sharing agreement before the House elected Cayetano last July 22.

    Velasco, however, admitted that it will not be a walk in the park for him since the position “will (still) go through voting.”

    Under the agreement, the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker, a former senator and foreign affairs secretary, would sit for 15 months and step down by October next year to give way to Velasco, who will have 21 months to lead the House.

    In a separate interview, Cayetano told reporters that Velasco has nothing to worry about since their agreement still stands.

    “Wala namang usapan na ‘di masusunod e (Nobody said that the agreement doesn’t stand anymore),” the Speaker said.

    Cayetano said he could not stop his colleagues who want him to finish the 18th Congress as Speaker because of the reforms that his leadership has made.

    “I mean, hindi mo maaalis sa ating mga kongresista na masaya sa mga reforms, na napasa ‘yung budget within a month, na institutional (amendments) ‘yung ating unang tiningnan (sa budget), ‘yung record attendance (I mean, you can’t stop congressmen who are happy with the reforms – that we were able to approve the (2020 national) budget in a month and we focused on institutional amendments and we had a record (daily) attendance),” he said.

    Cayetano said Velasco should rest easy “and use this time to prepare because the tasks of the House of Representatives is daunting, especially the Speaker’s.”

    The Speaker said he is just being true to himself instead of being a hypocrite whenever he tells the media that he would rather stay as Speaker for three years rather than stepping down after 15 only months.

    “Kahit naman baliktarin mo ‘yung tanong kay Cong. Velasco mo itanong, ‘would you rather have na hindi ka 21 months, would you have rather na three years ka,’ ang sagot din nya ‘yes’ (Even if you ask Cong. Velasco the same question, ‘would you rather have 21 months or three years? He would also answer, ‘yes’ (three years),” he said.