QUEZON CITY – Nine more allies of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco were elected as new Deputy Speakers, as the House of Representatives reshuffle continues.

They are Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo Teves; Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc, Valenzuela Reps. Eric Martinez and Wes Gatchalian; Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan; Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera; Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu; Saranggani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante.

Despite being high-ranking officials of the PDP-Laban, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel were removed as Deputy Speakers.

To date, the total number of Deputy Speakers is 29 surpassing the 22 of former Speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Instead, Gonzales and Pimentel were elected as chairpersons of the committees on bases conversion and strategic intelligence respectively.

Other allies of Velasco who were given juicy positions are Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison as House contingent to the Commission on Appointment replacing Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao Jr.; Navotas Rep. John Reynald Tiangco as chairman of of the committee on trade and industry; Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas as chairman of the committee on social services and La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel as chairperson of committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations and diplomacy;

Also elected as new Deputy Majority is Pangasinan Rep. Tyrone Aggabas and as Assistant Majority Leader is AMIN party-list Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan.

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez referred to the election of additional deputy speakers of the House of Representatives as “a move in the right direction” since it will ensure equal representation of all regions and political parties in the country.

“We have imperial Manila always, and so therefore Speaker Lord Allan Velasco deems it necessary to make sure that there is representation from the 16 regions,” Rodriguez said.

It can be recalled that Speaker Velasco has expressed his commitment to ensure that the House under his leadership will be inclusive and united, making the lower chamber truly the House representing the people.

Speaking during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum, Rodriguez—being a Mindanaoan and founder of Abante Mindanao Party-list—said he is tasked to address the concerns of the region. He also handles the legal and constitutional issues hounding the bills filed in the House.

Earlier last month, the House of Representatives elected several new officials, including three deputy speakers.

The three are Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Buhay Party-list Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar. Villar, daughter of Sen. Cynthia Villar and former Senate President and Speaker Manny Villar, later declined the position being a neophyte.

The House also elected former Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro “Dong” Mendoza as its new Secretary-General, after Atty. Jocelia Bighani Sipin tendered her resignation.

Sipin will assume a new position as Deputy Secretary General to work closely with Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and oversee the affairs of his office.

The legislative chamber also elected Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo as chairman of the Committee on Energy; Caloocan City 1st District Rep. Dale “Along” Malapitan as head of the House contingent to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal; and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap as vice-chair of the Committee on Accounts.

It also appointed Speaker Velasco as caretaker of Cebu City’s 1st District in light of the death of Rep. Raul Del Mar.

Velasco’s designation as caretaker was “upon the wishes of the late Rep. Del Mar, as communicated by his family and constituency.”

Rodriguez, known as one of House’s own legal luminaries, was elected to replace Capiz 2nd District Rep. Fredenil Castro.

He has been a congressman from 2007 to 2016 and from 2019 to present. A law graduate from the University of the Philippines, Rodriguez served as vice-governor of Misamis Oriental from 1984 to 1986. In 1990, he became the dean of the College of Law of San Sebastian College.

Rodriguez was commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration during the term of former President Joseph Estrada.

At the same time, the House elected Atienza as deputy speaker replacing Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez.

Atienza has been representing the Buhay Party-list in Congress since 2014. He previously served as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 2007 to 2009 during the Arroyo administration.

He also served three consecutive terms as mayor of Manila from 1998 to 2007.

Meanwhile, Villar was elected deputy speaker, replacing Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo “Ranie” Abu.

At 35, Villar is one of the youngest deputy speakers ever elected by the House.

Villar is the only daughter of real estate tycoon Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. and incumbent Senator Cynthia Villar.

The Villar patriarch was a former Senate President and House Speaker. He is also the president of the Nacionalista Party, the oldest political party in the country.