Velasco on proudest moment as speaker: 'I was able to unite Congress'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is proud to have united his fellow congressmen under his leadership — an achievement which he considers his "biggest" one to date as head of the lower chamber.

"When I became Speaker noong (in) October 2020...that was in the middle of the pandemic. And during that time, the term-sharing agreement, medyo watak-watak ang congressmen (the congressmen were not united)," the 43-year-old Marinduque representative told CNN Philippines' The Source in a taped interview on Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously forged a "gentlemen's agreement" with two key allies, with Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano assuming the speakership for the first 15 months, and Velasco taking the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

READ: Velasco sworn in as Speaker, offers to settle dispute with Cayetano 

In October 2020, Cayetano was booted out of the speakership after a weeks-long tussle with Velasco to keep the post in the middle of national budget deliberations. Velasco was elected by 186 lawmakers as the next Speaker in a session outside the Batasang Pambansa Complex.

He took pride in the 275-supermajority bloc that was formed under his leadership, out of the 307 members of the lower chamber "with differing issues and differing interests."

"Nakita naman po natin, nagkaroon tayo ng supermajority of 275. At ako’y nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng members of Congress for coming together pag kinakailangan," Velasco said.

[Translation: As you've seen, we have a supermajority of 275. And I thank all members of Congress for coming together in times of need.]

"Being able to handle all our members in Congress, I think that would be the biggest achievement of my stint of less than a year as Speaker," he added.

The Velasco-led chamber currently has 33 deputy speakers, the most in the House's history. Cayetano allies lost their key positions when Velasco became Speaker.

READ: House now has 33 deputy speakers 

With 11 remaining months in his post, Velasco expressed hope that the current House leadership would be able to act on the remaining priority bills of Duterte when session resumes next week.

The 18th Congress will resume session on July 26, the same day the President is to hold his sixth and final State of the Nation Address.