Lord's reward? Paolo Duterte gets plum House post after Velasco takeover

Presidential son and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte has been gifted with a plum post in the House just hours after his ally Lord Allan Velasco became Speaker.

As the House convened for the special session called by President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, October 13, Deputy Majority Leader Juan Pablo "Rimpy" Bondoc made a motion to elect Paolo Duterte as new chair of the House committee on accounts. 

No lawmaker objected the motion, so presiding Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella III accepted it. 

In the House, no motion to reorganize the House leadership is made on the floor unless it was the marching order of the Speaker. 

It was earlier agreed upon between Velasco and ousted speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that when the time comes for the Marinduque lawmaker to take over as House leader, the chair of the accounts panel would be changed too.

The chairmanship of the committee on accounts is a plum House post, as the panel is in charge of the internal budget of the chamber. Because of this, a trusted lawmaker is usually handpicked by the Speaker to sit as chair of the accounts committee. 

Paolo Duterte replaced Cayetano ally and Cavite 8th District Representative Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino in the committee.

The presidential son was formerly one of the 22 deputy speakers elected under the 15-month term of Cayetano.

But on Monday, October 12, the Davao City lawmaker reportedly resigned from his post after 186 legislators – in an unprecedented remote session – unseated Cayetano and replaced him with Velasco. 

The House later formalized Velasco's assumption as House leader during the Tuesday morning plenary session.

That Paolo Duterte now holds a key plum post under Velasco is not surprising. 

He and his sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte both moved to ensure that the term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco – brokered by their father no less – would push through. 

Over 3 weeks ago, Paolo Duterte threatened to unseat Cayetano upon hearing their colleagues' complaints about the inequitable distribution of public works funds under the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021.

It sent Cayetano and his allies into backroom talks to snuff out the brewing ouster. But on October 8, Paolo Duterte changed his tune and refused take sides in the Cayetano-Velasco rivalry.

Still, when Velasco finally succeeded in staging his own coup and was elected Speaker on Monday, he specifically thanked Paolo Duterte for the latter's "trust and moral support."

2021 budget plenary debates reopened

On Tuesday, Velasco's first order of business as Speaker was to undo Cayetano's controversial move to hastily pass on 2nd reading the 2021 budget or House Bill (HB) No. 7727.

The House unanimously agreed to reopen the plenary deliberations on the budget bill. As of posting time, lawmakers are debating on the proposed budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Still acting as deputy majority leader, Bondoc first made a motion to recall the 2nd reading passage of HB 7727. He also moved to withdraw the motions that suspended the period of debates and period of amendments for the 2021 budget. 

The plenary accepted all 3 motions.

Cayetano's railroading of the 2021 budget's 2nd reading approval, and his allies' subsequent move to suspend session until November 16, were seen as a ploy to keep himself as Speaker past October 14, the day Velasco originally picked for his takeover. 

Cayetano's maneuvering angered the President, who felt "duped" after his former running mate refused to honor the term-sharing deal he had green-lighted.

After the Velasco bloc successfully ousted Cayetano, the President met with both of his allies in Malacañang and urged them to "unite" so the 2021 budget would be passed on time. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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