Velasco assures ‘equal treatment’ if elected speaker

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Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said Thursday party-list representatives will not be treated as second class congressmen in the Lower House if he will win as speaker.

“Ang sinasabi ko lang naman sa party-list because in Congress, since I started back in 2010, we have this thing parang they felt like they were called second class citizen in Congress,” Velasco said.

“I said, ‘No naman. We’re all representatives. You guys represent your sectors.’ So, everyone has to be treated the same. Everyone has to be treated fairly that’s just my pitch to them,” he added.

If elected as speaker, Velasco will be the youngest House chief but promised to take care of his seniors in Congress.

Recently, Velasco posted his visit to President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang with his family. He was with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte this week for a small meeting.

When asked about the support of the Dutertes, Velasco said the President has his “trust and confidence.”

“I think the president will announce soon hopefully or if not, I think Mayor Inday (Sara) has been vocal about it based on the news reports that came out,” Velasco said.

“I guess during our campaign trail the three months we were together in the HNP (Hugpong ng Pagbabago), I think Mayor Inday gave me her trust and confidence to be the next speaker of the House,” he added.

Velasco is currently affiliated with the ruling party, PDP which has three bets for speakership.

Velasco’s statement comes as party-list groups offer their combined votes to the candidate for speaker who can assure them of equal treatment in the House of Representatives.

The Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) made the offer to Velasco and two other candidates for House speakers whom it invited to speak to party-list representatives Thursday to present their legislative agenda in the 18th Congress.

The PCFI which is composed of 20 percent of the House of Representatives also opened their doors to Representative-elects Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig City and Martin Romualdez of Leyte.

Velasco shared his sentiments with reelected AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., one of the veteran PCFI members who said they wanted to feel that they were being treated equally as the elected district representatives.

Velasco acknowledged the power of bloc voting of the party-list coalition hoping that the 54 members of the PCFI will vote for him.

“Hopefully they choose me as they are coming out as a strong block they’re around 61 but to think they already have 54 definitely the coalition is a force to reckon with in Congress,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced his bid for speakership of the 18th Congress while Pampanga Rep. Dong Gonzales was also rumored to join the race.

Velasco said they are still waiting for the president’s final say on who are they going to support for speakership.

Yesterday night, PDP had a gathering in Gloria Maris in San Juan.

“We’re actually waiting for the president, being the chairman of the party, to tell us which one between the three of us Dong Gonzales, former speaker Alvarez and me. We’ll just wait for the president to tell us,” Velasco disclosed.

He said that they will submit a list to the president and will just wait for the “instructions” for the PDP members.

Velasco also denied the rumored distribution of P1 million per congressman to secure their support for his speakership bid.

“Wala akong ganiyang kalaking pera and even from the past speakerships during my 15th Congress, sa 17th Congress, wala akong natatanggap na ganun,” Velasco said.

Cayetano also met with the members of the PCFI Thursday. However, he did not disclose the legislative agenda that he shared with the party-list representatives.

Meanwhile, Romualdez said that he has already informed the president of his intention to become the next speaker.

“Actually, I met with the president to inform him my intention to run for speakership and, of course, I am hoping for his blessing and the support and, of course, that doesn’t come immediately… I think he was happy that I gave him that courtesy,” Romualdez said in an interview.

He also said he will offer proper representation of party-list groups, proper budget allocation and proper committee assignment for the party-list representatives in the incoming Congress.

“We have to remember that party-list group represents many sectors, the marginalized sectors and the very, very specific sectors that minsan naiiwanan. So masyadong importante ito kaya we are putting time here,” Romualdez said.

He said that he will also ask for the blessing of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the previous members of Lakas-CMD, the political party where Romualdez is affiliated with.

Romualdez said that he is happy that there is a “manifesto”, as claimed by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, that is going around which seek to express support for his speakership bid.

PCIF is also waiting for their meeting with Alvarez to give him a chance to present his legislative agenda.

They also said that they will invite Senator Loren Legarda, who won as Antique representative, to also ask her of the plans that she prepared for the 18th Congress.

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