SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday took his oath of office as representative of Marinduque’s lone district for the incoming 19th Congress, in a festive ceremony attended by his supporters, family, and friends, notably Vice President-elect Sara Duterte.
Thousands of Marinduqueños gathered at the Marinduque Sports Complex in Boac town to witness Velasco being sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez. The two shared the stage with Duterte, who held the Bible while Velasco was taking his oath.
The swearing-in ceremony was followed by a thanksgiving concert featuring popular rock bands Aegis and Kamikazee, and “suklay diva” Katrina Velarde.
In his inaugural message, Velasco thanked Marinduqueños for their continued trust and confidence in him and for joining him in his journey from being a representative of a “tiny, heart-shaped” island province to becoming the country’s fourth highest government official.
He also vowed to continue his brand of honest and compassionate public service which, just like his long-time friend and ally, outgoing Davao City Mayor Duterte, is driven by love for God, country and family.
“Sa bawat pagsubok at hamon na ating kinaharap sa Kongreso, iisa lamang po ang aking pangunahing gabay— ang Pag-ibig. Pag-ibig sa Panginoon, Pag-ibig sa Bayan, at Pag-ibig sa Pamilya. Ito ang nagpapabangon sa atin tuwing umaga upang gawin ang lahat ng ating makakaya upang lalong bumuti ang kalagayan ng ating bayan at ng ating bansa,” Velasco said.
He added: “Ito rin po ang dahilan kung bakit lubos ang paghanga ko kay Mayor Inday. Dalisay po ang pag-ibig niya sa ating bayan. Isang probinsyanang Punong-Bayan na nakinig sa hiling ng mamamayan na maglingkod hindi lamang sa isang lungsod bagkus, sa buong bansa. Ito po ang aming magkahalintulad na dangal at prinsipyo— ang maglingkod nang tapat sa ating bayan. Ngayon, at sa darating na panahon.”
The 44-year-old House leader also urged the youth to believe in themselves and to challenge themselves to achieve more for their families, communities and the country.
“At sa paglipas ng panahon, nais kong ipaalala sa mga kabataan, lalo na sa kabataan ng Marinduque, na ‘kaya natin;’ na huwag magduda at huwag maliitin ang pinanggalingan. Kaya nating mapabuti ang bayan, mapabuti ang ating pamayanan, mapabuti ang ating barangay at mga tahanan. Kaya natin kahit ang tanging tangan lamang natin ay ang pananampalataya sa Panginoon, ang mabuting prinsipyo, at pagmamahal sa bayan. Kaya nating itakda ang sariling tadhana, dahil tayo ang susunod na pagbabago,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte thanked the people of Marinduque for supporting her vice presidential bid and for the warm welcome she received as guest of honor in Velasco’s inauguration.
Duterte, who has been a frequent visitor of Marinduque, asked that she be recognized as “adopted daughter” of the province, to which Velasco responded “done” as he asked the provincial council to pass a resolution to the effect.
Velasco will be serving his third consecutive term following his reelection in the May 9, 2022 polls.
As an unopposed candidate, he needed only at least one vote to win and yet he obtained more than 100,000 votes—the most of any local candidate in the province.
In October 2020, Velasco assumed the speakership in the middle of a raging global pandemic. Undaunted, he was able to lead the “bigger house of Congress” in producing desperately needed legislation aimed at mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.
Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, the House—under Velasco’s competent stewardship—has remained steadfast and resolute on the enactment of laws to uplift the plight of suffering Filipinos from the devastation brought about by the unprecedented public health crisis.
His style of youthful, focused, consultative and inclusive leadership unified the legislative chamber in passing vital legislation, such as the 2021 and 2022 national budgets, National COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, to name a few.
With his exemplary display of management and compassion, Velasco prioritized the health and safety of House Members and employees in order to keep the legislative mill running so that the chamber could continue to pass critical emergency pandemic response measures.
United under Velasco’s leadership, the House has put in place strict health and safety protocols, including regular COVID-19 testing and mass vaccination.
Even as he became Speaker, Velasco would always keep a close watch on Marinduque, ensuring that his constituents are provided with basic government services and that they benefit from the programs and projects specifically made for them.