Velasco installed as new Speaker in session outside House
MANILA, Philippines — A total of 186 congressmen, or majority of 299 members of the House of Representatives, have elected Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker in a session described by allies of Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano “illegal.”
The election happened in a session held Monday at the Celebrity Sports Complex in Quezon City despite questions from Cayetano’s camp regarding the legality of the process.
It was Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, who has been vocal amid the speakership row, who moved to declare the Speaker’s post vacant, the first step to essentially unseat Cayetano.
After his motion was seconded, a nominal voting on the motion resulted in 186 lawmakers voting on the affirmative thus making the Speaker’s post vacant.
This was immediately followed by a number of lawmakers nominating Velasco for the post. This includes Reps. Doy Leachon, Jack Duavit, Kristine Singson-Meehan, and Kiko Benitez, among others.
It is, however, still unclear whether the move to elect Velasco was legal.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker Neptali Gonzales II said that the Velasco supporters’ gathering is a “rump and illegal session” where the rules of the House will not apply.
Gonzales argued that House session is suspended until November 16 and that there is no authority from the plenary for the lower chamber to reconvene on Monday, October 12.
“Unlike in the Batangas Session, there is no plenary Resolution authorizing to hold session in any other place other than in the Plenary in Batasan, contrary to the Constitution,” Gonzales said, referring to the lower chamber’s session in Batangas following the Taal eruption.
“All the maces, old and official, are currently in the possession and safekeeping of the [Sergeant-at-Arms]. These prove that what they are doing is clearly a rump and illegal session where the Rules of the House will not apply and can not be used,” the House leader added.
What happened during the session
At the beginning of the session, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, citing the Constitution and rules of the lower chamber, pointed out that a majority of House members, constituting a quorum, can resume the session.
Rodriguez also said that a majority of members in attendance can also hold sessions outside the regularly designated session halls pursuant to the Constitution.
In the same session, Atty. Hani Sipin was elected as the new secretary-general while Mao Aplasca was elected as sergeant-at-arms.
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