The 44-strong Nacionalista Party (NP) on Thursday pledged to work closely with the new leadership of the House of Representatives in pursuing the legislative priorities of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar said the NP, to which ousted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano belongs, “extends its collaborative hand” to newly installed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to ensure the success of the President’s legislative and economic agenda.”

“Amid the recent development in the House of Representatives, the Nacionalista Party 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,” Villar said.

She said she believes the country, with a robust leadership backed by a proactive Cabinet, is in a “better position” to rise from the challenges of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and “facilitate the delivery of the cure” against the virus.

Aside from supporting the country’s Covid-19 response, Villar said, the NP would also back measures seeking to cut red tape and corruption in government.

“We join President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his unrelenting campaign to weed out corruption in government, which is stealing precious resources that should have gone directly to the people,” she said.

Villar said the party likewise commits to pass the proposed 2021 national budget “that would be truly reflective of the needs of the people and not merely based on the requirements of the districts.”

Last week, Duterte called for a special session of Congress from October 13 to 16 to resume congressional deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget.

In a meeting with the President on Tuesday, Velasco and Cayetano promised to “work together” as one majority to ensure the timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget.

The meeting took place after the House ratified Velasco’s speakership election in Tuesday’s session, essentially ousting Cayetano from his post.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was “very appreciative” that budget debates could resume without disruptions.

“The President, of course, was very appreciative of both parties and he appreciated the fact that Congress is now focusing on the budget because that has been his call from the very beginning to pass the 2021 budget,” Roque said.

It was Duterte who brokered a term-sharing agreement in 2019 where Cayetano would serve as the Speaker until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position until the 18th Congress ends in 2022. 

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