MANILA, Philippines – Is this a sign of things to come at the 18th Congress?
President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, both called reelectionist Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives in two separate events in the province on Saturday, November 3.
Sara Duterte Carpio was in Boac town as she led the signing of an alliance between her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Velasco’s Kapatirang Marinduque for the 2019 midterm elections.
In a video of her speech viewed by Rappler, the presidential daughter was telling the crowd at the Marinduque State College that they will “soon” have their first Speaker of the House.
“Siya po ang susunod na Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Lord Allan Velasco. So that will soon be the pride of Marinduque – to be the first Speaker na galing dito sa inyo sa Marinduque,” said Carpio.
(He will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Lord Allan Velasco. So that will soon be the pride of Marinduque – to be the first Speaker from your very own Marinduque.)
Carpio’s speech did not escape her father, who later graced Velasco’s birthday celebration held in the same venue on Saturday evening.
In another video taken during Velasco’s party, the President led the singing of a “Happy Birthday” song for Velasco, a close ally of Duterte.
Joining Duterte and Velasco on stage were the latter’s wife Wen and his father, retired Supreme Court justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, as well as Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
After Velasco and Wen blew the candle on the birthday cake, Duterte raised the hand of the Marinduque congressman.
“Let me raise the hands of a – Speaker raw sabi ni Inday? (Inday said he’ll be the next Speaker?) It proves the lack of politics here. You have the Speaker of the House,” said the President.
Duterte’s statement about her husband seem to have delighted Wen, who was smiling as she shook the left arm of Go before briefly putting her head on Go’s shoulder.
Rappler already sought Velasco for comment, but he has yet to reply as of posting time.
The Velascos are close allies of the President. In 2016, Duterte spent his first Christmas as chief executive together with the couple. The Velascos had also hosted birthday parties for Duterte in 2017 and 2018.
This is not the first time Velasco’s name has been raised as a potential leader of the House.
He was rumored to have been one of the congressmen being considered to replace now-ousted speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez earlier this year.
But Velasco ended up voting for former president and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during the House coup that unseated Alvarez and made Arroyo the new Speaker.
If Velasco aspires to be Speaker in the 18th Congress, he will likely go against Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections, previously said he is aiming to become House Speaker. Cayetano is running for Taguig City congressman in 2019. –Mara Cepeda, Rappler.com