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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Who is Lord Allan Velasco, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives

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Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco will take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Oct. 14 according to sources following President Duterte’s second intervention in the simmering feud for the leadership of the House of Representatives.

After the 2019 midterm elections, Representatives Alan Peter Cayetano (NP-Taguig), Martin Romualdez (Lakas-Tacloban), and Lord Allan Velasco (PDP-Marinduque) all vied for the speakership which ended in a brokered agreement by President Rodrigo Duterte. Under the said agreement, Alan Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first fifteen (15) months and Lord Alan Velasco for the remaining twenty-one (21) months of the Congressional session. Martin Romualdez will serve as the Majority Leader, the second most powerful position in the House of Representatives.

A dynasty slayer.

Lord Allan Velasco first won his congressional seat in 2010 against Edmund Reyes, also from an entrenched political family in Marinduque. Ironically, he lost to Edmund Reyes’s sister, Regina Reyes, in his reelection bid in 2013. The Reyes’s ruled Marinduque for three decades. He again vied for the lone seat of Marinduque in 2016 and is now serving his second consecutive term. He is currently the chairman of the House Committee on Energy. He is also the chairman of the Oversight Committee on Solid Waste Management Act and co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission. Previous to his stint in Congress, he was the Provincial Administrator of Marinduque.

He earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Management from De La Salle University and completed his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

The powerful but controversial father.

Lord Allan Velasco is the eldest son of Marinduque’s current Governor and former Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco. From 2016 until his retirement, the ex-justice concurred in all Supreme Court rulings that favored Duterte’s policies. The elder Velasco was a controversial figure in the Court as he was accused of brokering for litigants as alleged by Bantay Katarungan, a judiciary watchdog founded by former Sen. Jovito Salonga. Velasco also allegedly held lavish parties and golf tournaments sponsored by companies owned by wealthy businessmen such as Lucio Tan. Justice Velasco denies these.

The family matriarch, Lorna, ran unopposed as mayor of Torrijos, Marinduque in 2019.

The ties with the Duterte’s.

Lord Allan Velasco is a close friend of the Duterte family. His family had spent Christmas Eve with the Duterte’s in Davao City in 2016. He has thrown grand birthday parties for President Rodrigo Duterte in the past years. The Velasco couple is often part of the President’s official foreign trips. Velasco even once held his birthday party on Malacañang grounds.

Sara Duterte is the godmother of the Velasco couple’s youngest child, conspicuously named Sara. She once referred to Lord Alan as “the next Speaker” during the 2019 campaign and called him her big bike riding buddy. Both Polong and Sara did not wholeheartedly support a Cayetano Speakership at the onset in 2019. Sara’s ally and fellow Davaoeño, Rep. Ungab, was booted out as Appropriations chair last year by Speaker Cayetano.

The oligarch connection.

Lord Allan’s wife, Rowena Velasco, is said to be Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation’s lobbyist and girl Friday. Wen Velasco founded the Pilipinong May Puso Foundation, a non-profit organization engaged in charitable activities, which was launched in Davao City in November 2016 as a tribute to President Duterte’s late mother, Soledad Roa Duterte. The foundation lists Ramon S. Ang as its major benefactor, and the latter himself was present during that inaugural event four years ago. Ramon Ang is one of their wedding sponsors.

In the recent battle for the Speakership, the Nationalist People’s Coalition which considers Ramon Ang as its patron supported Velasco. The Visayan bloc led by Rep. Paduano of Abang Lingkod party-list and fmr. Rep. Albee Benitez of Negros, the Northern Alliance led by Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson, party-list caucus led by 1Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero (the richest Congressman), and Velasco’s party PDP-Laban also supported the 15-21 agreement between Cayetano and Velasco.

What’s next for Alan Peter Cayetano?

Velasco is set to assume the Speakership on October 14, a day before Congress is set to recess. But there are reports that Cayetano wants to stay as Speaker until January 2021, an 18-18 term sharing or at least until October 28 this year, his 50th birthday.

If the agreement is to push through two weeks from now, sources say Cayetano is not keen on staying in the House of Representative and is said to be eyeing the DILG or the yet to be formed Department of Disaster Relief as fallback. A more high profile role for someone who has high ambitions.

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