(Photo Courtesy: http://www.cnn.ph)

While Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco got the needed votes to be installed as House Speaker last Tuesday that led to the ouster of his erstwhile rival Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, the influence of the regional bloc Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) led by its founder Mayor Sara Z. Duterte can never be discounted.

On Monday, the HNP released a statement expressing support for the term-sharing agreement between Velasco and Cayetano.

“HNP will respect the term-sharing agreement as ordered by the President last year and reiterated that the party fully supports Presidential Proclamation 1027,” HNP founder Sara said in a statement.

A House lawmaker speaking on the condition of anonymity said that Sara’s statement on Monday was what also prompted Velasco and his allies to push through with the House session held on Tuesday at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, leading to the ouster of Cayetano as Speaker.

Sara also met with Velasco in Davao City seeking support for his Speaker bid.

“The meeting of Sara and Allan (Velasco) in Davao City and HNP making a declaration that is supports the term-sharing deal between Velasco and Cayetano eventually led to Velasco and his allies electing Velasco as Speaker and ousting Cayetano,” the lawmaker said.

And in a strange twist, Sara’s brother Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte was appointed chairman of the House Committee on Accounts on Wednesday. He was former deputy speaker and another Velasco ally, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, took over his position.

The lawmaker said that with Sara demonstrating her influence in House affairs, she might as well be considered the “real” Speaker of the House while Velasco might turn out to be a “puppet.”

“As to how Velasco governs the House will show if he is a puppet or Sara or not,” the lawmaker said.

Under the term-sharing agreement, Cayetano was supposed to lead the House for the first 15 months upon his election on July 22 last year and Velasco would take over the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

According to Sara, Velasco came to the city to seek the support of the three Davao lawmakers who are affiliated with HNP.

A photo circulating on social media showed Velasco and the presidential daughter sharing a meal in a meeting that reportedly took place Friday evening last week.

“He intimated that there will be a Speakership vote and he sought for my help, as the chairperson of HNP, with regard to the votes of the three HNP Congressmen from Davao Region,” Sara said. (sovereignph.com)

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