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House leader slams limelight-grabbing at Palace event

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil “Fred” Castro on Sunday cautioned any political group against committing “highly immoral, if not highly indecent” act of using the mass oath-taking of Senator-elect Bong Go’s staunch supporters on Tuesday at Malacañang Palace for their “self-serving” political interest in the speakership race.

House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro (CONGRESS / MANILA BULLETIN)

House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro (CONGRESS / MANILA BULLETIN)

He issued the stern warning against the supposed “political pickpocketing” after incoming Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano bared that a text brigade was launched by the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco inviting neophyte lawmakers to attend the event.

“To grab, snatch, or hijack the limelight of those who are scheduled to take their oath, including lawmakers and the honor of the President administering the oath for self-serving political purpose is highly immoral if not highly indecent,” Castro, president of the National Unity Party (NUP) and a key supporter of Go, said.

Cayetano protested the supposed campaign style of Velasco’s camp, saying the event on Tuesday is aimed at honoring all Go’s supporters.

Velasco could not be reached for comment on the supposed circulating text message asking House members to confirm attendance as one of the oath-takers for the June 25 event.

“Good evening po Congressman. This is from the Office of Cong. Lord Allan Velasco. We were requested to help coordinate for the Mass Oath-taking of newly elected officials with PRRD next week, June 25, 2019 (Tuesday), 5:15 p.m., at Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace. In this regard, may we please request you to confirm your attendance as one of the oath-takers,” the text message, purportedly sent by Velasco’s camp to lawmakers, read.

The text message also reminded that guests, including family members cannot be accommodated.
“Considering its nature and the number of oath-takers, we regret that we cannot accommodate guests (including family members),” it said.

Castro said he would not attend the mass oath-taking event to allow neophyte lawmakers to have more quality time with President Duterte.

“Let us give the neophyte members the opportunity to own the President during the time of oathtaking and to enjoy the honor accorded to them as new members of the House of Representatives,” he said.

He said the contenders in the speakership should not ride or take advantage of the Malacañang event to advance their political agenda.

He said the next Speaker should win the hearts of his colleagues through hard work.

Velasco’s camp had earlier claimed that the Marinduque representative initiated the social event dinner of Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte for neophyte lawmakers last Tuesday.

A partylist lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera Dy, secretary general of the Partylist Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), also invited first-termers to the Malacañang event. Dy posted the message in the Viber thread of the party-list bloc, but he did not mention Velasco.

“Almost the same message was sent to our Viber thread. Hindi lang niya binanggit si Congressman Velasco. Sana in good faith ang imbitasyon lalo’t naririnig naming preference niya si Velasco and she wants to be a deputy speaker.

This is not good because we are still in the process of choosing our candidate for Speaker,” the House member said.

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