Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, the new deputy speaker (Courtesy: http://www.rmn.ph)

The House of Representatives on Friday elected Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro as deputy speaker, replacing 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael Romero, a known ally of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

This latest development shows that incumbent House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, also the representative of Taguig-Pateros, has overwhelming support in the chamber and President Rodrigo Dutrere is keeping his hands off on the House leadership issue.

Castro is a supporter of Cayetano.

Deputy Majority Leader Xavier Jesus Romualdo moved for the revamp in the House leadership during the plenary deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

“Mr. Speaker, I move that we elect Representative Fredenil H. Castro vice Rep. Michael L. Romero,” Romualdo said.

No lawmaker objected, and the motion was approved.

“Representative Fred Castro is hereby designated as one of the deputy speaker(s),” Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu said.

Castro, earlier in the day, challenged Velasco and his supporters to resign from their leadership posts if they are not willing to cooperate with the incumbent House Speaker.

“Resign your leadership positions and let those who are willing to help take over,” Castro said in a privilege speech. “There is no shame in admitting defeat at the hands of a better foe, but it is not fitting to pretend to be part of the team, while betraying your colleagues and undermining the efforts of Congress,” he said.

On Thursday, Duterte said he will no longer interfere on the issue on who will be the next House Speaker and is more interested in getting the proposed P4.56-trillion 2021 budget passed before the end of the year.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said Duterte now views the issue on who will be the next House Speaker as an “internal matter” that could be settled by members of the chamber.

“Well, uulitin ko po ang paninindigan ng ating Presidente, iyong pagpili po ng liderato ng Kamara ay isang internal matter para sa Kamara de Representante at nirirespeto naman po ng Presidente ang naging desisyon ng Kamara na ibinasura po iyong pagri-resign ni Speaker Alan Cayetano (I will just repeat the stand of the President, selecting a leader in Congress is an internal matter of the House of Representatives and he respects the decision of the House to reject the resignation of Speaker Alan Cayetano),” Roque had said.

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