Velasco belongs to the ruling PDP-Laban party, whose secretary general and speakership rival, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, claimed on Monday that one aspirant for the top House post was offering P500,000, while another was dangling P1 million. Alvarez refused to name them.
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Speaker-hopeful Lord Allan Velasco denies bribing colleagues
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - May 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An aspirant for speaker of the House of Representatives yesterday denied bribing colleagues to gain their support.

Asked in an ANC interview if he was the one offering P1 million, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said, “I am not giving away a million pesos.”

Velasco belongs to the ruling PDP-Laban party, whose secretary general and speakership rival, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, claimed on Monday that one aspirant for the top House post was offering P500,000, while another was dangling P1 million. Alvarez refused to name them.

Velasco said he does not think aspirants for speaker would “want to go to that type of wheeling and dealing to get the position.”

“I also do not think that each congressman could be bought that easily,” he said.

As to where rumors and claims about millions changing hands were coming from, he said, “It’s time for an election for speaker, so we hear a lot of these stories.”

He and Alvarez are two of the PDP-Laban candidates for speaker. The third is Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., who served as his party’s deputy national campaign manager in the recent elections.

The other aspirants for the fourth highest position in the land include incoming Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who, according to his Lakas partymate Rep. Danilo Suarez of Quezon, has the support of at least 126 House members.

Romualdez vowed to push for President Duterte’s legislative agenda.

“When you aspire for speaker, you represent the majority coalition of the administration. If you think you share a common voice (with the President), you must support the legislative agenda of the administration,” he said.

Romualdez vowed to consult and listen to the members of the House, saying, “A good speaker is one who listens more than he speaks.”

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, a Romualdez supporter, said his candidate’s “knowledge and vast experience in the financial markets and the field of economics would help expedite the enactment into laws of President Duterte’s economic reform agenda.”

“Rep. Romualdez is not only a banker and economist. He is also a lawyer who knows what are the legislative measures needed to propel the country’s economy to greater heights,” he said.

“All the candidates for speaker in the 18th Congress are my friends. They are all worthy of the position. But I am sorry to say this: Martin Romualdez is a cut above the rest. He knows his economics and he knows his politics, too. Definitely, he can unite the House of Representatives and move us into passing vital economic measures needed to sustain the country’s economic growth,” he said.

Velasco said the ruling party agreed in a meeting last week he, Alvarez and Gonzales attended that they would leave it up to President Duterte to choose the PDP-Laban common candidate for speaker.

He said his advantage over his rivals is that he is “a loyal friend to the President and (presidential daughter and Davao City) Mayor Inday (Sara Duterte).”

“I can talk directly to the President when it comes to the problems of the House,” he said.

Velasco added that he became close with the President’s daughter during the recent election campaign, when he frequently accompanied her and her Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial ticket in their provincial sorties.

Velasco promised to be fair to all his colleagues if they elect him their speaker.

He said he would not do what Alvarez did to at least 24 House members, who lost funds allocated to their districts in the 2018 national budget.

“Nobody will get a zero budget. I am a district congressman. I know the districts need it. Nobody will also have the budgets allocated to their districts slashed,” he said.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES LORD ALLAN VELASCO
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