Nacionalista Party officially expresses support for Velasco leadership
Rep. Camille Villar
Nacionalista Party officially expresses support for Velasco leadership
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines Las Piñas City Rep. Camille Villar, a leader of the Nacionalista Party, confirmed yesterday that the NP, the political party of former House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, expressed its unequivocal support to the leadership of newly installed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

“The party extends its helping hand to the new House leadership and vows to work closely with their team to ensure the success of the President’s legislative and economic agenda,” she said on behalf of her father, former Senate president Manny Villar, who heads the NP that has 44 House members and had previously supported partymate Cayetano, who was ousted as speaker on Oct. 12.

“NP remains steadfast in supporting the legislative agenda of the President as his government endeavors to bring solution to the problems of the country, especially now that we are in the middle of the pandemic,” she said in a statement.

“With a robust leadership backed by a pro-active Cabinet, we believe that the country is in a better position to rise from the challenges of this pandemic and ultimately, facilitate the delivery of the cure against COVID-19,” Villar said.

Villar’s pronouncement was also corroborated by another NP stalwart Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs.

“The fight is over, and now since the dust has settled so to speak, then let’s move forward. We were not privy to their (Velasco and Cayetano and Duterte) meeting, but whatever it is, our members are throwing our support for Speaker Velasco,” he told reporters.

NP, the political party founded by the Laurel family, also supported Duterte in his campaign to weed out corruption.

“The NP, along with my esteemed House colleagues in the party, also commits to the speedy passage of the 2021 national budget that would be truly reflective of the needs of the people and not merely based on the requirements of the districts,” Villar said.

Velasco, who took over as Speaker in a tumultuous event due to Cayetano’s refusal to leave his post, now has the support of the super majority coalition in the chamber, where he even met members of the House opposition bloc Wednesday.

Members of the 47-strong National Unity Party (NUP) also met Velasco on Wednesday afternoon, after which the political party threw its support behind the leadership of the new Speaker.

Lakas-CMD, which has 37 House members, also backed Velasco’s leadership.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president, will keep his post as House majority leader as part of the agreement.

This effectively cements the support Velasco will get from the administration coalition led by President Duterte’s PDP-Laban where the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition, the Party-list Coalition Foundation and Liberal Party have thrown their support behind the current leadership.

The once-powerful Lakas-CMD that was founded by former presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has about 37 members, PDP-Laban has at least 57, the late tycoon Danding Cojuangco’s NPC has around 30, PCFI has 54 members while LP has about 17.

Lawmakers also vowed to pass the measure granting President Duterte powers to cut bureaucratic red tape, as soon as Malacanang certifies the bill urgent.

“Upon the directive of the President and the instruction of Speaker Velasco, the House will work on the passage of the anti-red tape measure before we adjourn the special session,” said Romualdez.

House Bill 7884, which is expected to be passed by the plenary on third and final reading today seeks to streamline the issuance of licenses and permits during national emergencies.

Velasco and Romualdez filed the bill on Wednesday, titled “An Act Authorizing the President to Expedite the Processing and Issuance of National and Local Permits, Licenses, and Certifications.”

The measure intends to accelerate the country’s socioeconomic recovery and ensure an effective government response to the present health crisis that has gripped the nation and has resulted in a recession.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Velasco, we are in full support of the marching orders from President Duterte for Congress to go all out in helping curb red tape and corruption in all levels of governance,” Romualdez said.

Section 2 of the bill gives Duterte the authority to suspend the requirements for national and local permits, licenses and certifications, and to streamline and expedite the process of issuance.

The bill covers all agencies of the executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils; government instrumentalities, government-owned and controlled corporations.

HB 7884 seeks to authorize the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergency.

Co-authors of the bill include Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Tingog), Wes Gatchalian (Valenzuela), Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Camiguin), Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon), Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro), Mikee Romero (1Pacman).

Meanwhile, Sen. Bong Go urges the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to ensure the completion of all its priority infrastructure projects before the term of Duterte ends.

Go expressed support to the proposed 2021 budget of the DPWH and its attached agencies.

DPWH is slated to get P667 billion, a 52 percent increase from this year’s budget. It is also the agency receiving the second-highest amount in 2021, next to education.

During a Senate committee on finance public hearing on Wednesday, Go said that the DPWH has been hands-on in the rebuilding of the country since the onslaught of COVID-19.

Go also expressed gratitude to the department for converting several public facilities into isolation sites and tent cities to cater to Persons Under Investigation and Persons Under Monitoring in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Go called on Public Works Secretary Mark Villar to ensure that the targets they set are being met and that their projects are accomplished before the term of Duterte ends.

He noted the DPWH must exert more effort to meet targets of the administration’s infrastructure programs. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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