'It was newsworthyâ: PCOO defends PTV coverage of Velasco faction's session
In this Oct. 12, 2020 screengrab, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (right) takes his oath of office after 186 lawmakers elect him as Speaker of the House of Representatives during a remote informal session at sports club in Quezon City.
RTVM screengrab
'It was newsworthy’: PCOO defends PTV coverage of Velasco faction's session
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - October 13, 2020 - 4:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Communications Office on Tuesday defended state-run People's Television Network's (PTV) broadcasting of the informal session held by lawmakers to elect Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) as Speaker of the House, while maintaining that it did not reflect PCOO's views on the issue. 

This comes after Sen. Koko Pimentel pressed PCOO on the matter during a hearing on the agency's proposed 2021 budget.

"There was an event yesterday at Celebrity Sports Complex where some congressmen elected Congressman Lord Alan Velasco as the new Speaker of the House. I am told that PTV4 covered it so just give me the reason. Why did you cover it? How do you decide on which events to cover?" Pimentel questioned. 

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar responded by saying that he gives PTV's general manager "a lot of elbow room" and emphasizing that he is not involved in their editorial decisions. 

"GM Kat de Castro, having worked for private corporations like the ABS-CBN for the longest time, she manages it like a professional broadcast center, broadcast TV network, wherein we cover everybody. We do not side with any political force. So I am assuming that the GM decided based on the newsworthiness of the story," he said.  

Several reporters and spectators on Monday took Radio-Television Malacañang's airing of the event, which was crossposted by PTV, to be a sign of Malacañang's support for Velasco. The informal session saw 186 lawmakers vote to seat the Marinduque representative as House speaker, unseating Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros).

PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan shortly after claimed that RTVM's coverage of the event does not reflect the PCOO's stance on the speakership row. 

De Castro on Tuesday echoed Andanar and said that the incident in Quezon City was covered because it was deemed newsworthy by PTV. She added that PTV also crossposted former Cayetano's live stream "to make sure that we appeared as fair." 

"So it's always balanced, we strive to be fair. We don't do angles, we don't do twists, just report events the way they are," De Castro claimed. Upon the motion of Senators Imee Marcos and Miguel Zubiri, the Senate panel approved the proposed P1.74 billion budget for the PCOO and its attached agencies for submission to the plenary.

Meanwhile, Velasco's election was ratified by 186 lawmakers late Tuesday morning in a session held at Batasang Pambansa, forcing Cayetano to step aside. President Rodrigo Duterte also met with both representatives in the afternoon, as confirmed by presidential spokesman Harry Roque. 

"In the course of the meeting, the two representatives agreed to work together as one majority in order to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 budget and other priority legislation of the Duterte administration," Roque said. —  with reports from Xave Gregorio

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 19, 2020 - 6:02pm

Follow this thread for updates and the unfolding drama surrounding the struggle for leadership of the House of Representatives between factions of the administration coalition.

October 19, 2020 - 6:02pm

The minority bloc in the House of Representatives unanimously elects Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod Party-lit) as new minority leader.

The 22-member minority bloc says they will continue to support "legislations for the people through constructive criticisms and not as obstructionists."

"With the new leadership under Rep. Paduano, the Minority Bloc is assuring the House and the Filipino people that it will remain loyal to the principles that mould the group in fiscalizing and in providing a potent force to implement check and balance in the House of Representatives," the group says in a statement.

October 13, 2020 - 11:56am

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, via Facebook Live, tenders his "irrevocable resignation" as speaker of the House of Representatives.

October 13, 2020 - 9:57am

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says President Rodrigo Duterte has called Reps. Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco to a meeting in Malacañang.

October 12, 2020 - 1:11pm

The gathering of House members at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City has declared the post of speaker vacant and has elected Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) their speaker.

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has maintained that the gathering is a "fake session" and that elections can be held tomorrow, when the House resumes its session as called for by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The election for speaker under the '15-21' term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco would have been on the 14th but Cayetano moved to suspend the session early.


October 12, 2020 - 12:27pm

In a press conference at the House of Representatives, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) says he still has the support of 205 members of the House and calls the gathering at the Celebrity Sports Plaza a few kilometers away a "fake session."

He adds that if you add his 205 and the 187 claimed by the Velasco faction, that would be more than the 299 members of the House.

He stresses that President Rodrigo Duterte's call for Congress to hold a special session is to work on the budget bill.

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