By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, July 9 2019; Business Mirror
Image Credit to Business Mirror
PRESIDENT Duterte has endorsed the bid of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano for the speakership, in a term-sharing arrangement with his strongest rival, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
The third of the strongest candidates for the top post of the House of Representatives, Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, will serve as majority floor leader in the supposed set-up.
“I tried to distance myself from the [speakership] but I said it’s time that I talk. So that’s the setup,” the President said in his speech during the oath-taking of new government officials in Malacañang on Monday.
This will be the first time that the House of Representatives will have a term-sharing setup as proposed by a President.
Lawmakers earlier rejected term sharing, saying “it is not going to be healthy for the chamber.” They also said a change in the House leadership entails changes in committee chairmanships and this could disrupt committee hearings, including those related to the national budget.
In an interview on the sidelines of the oath-taking, Duterte said he endorsed Cayetano because the Taguig lawmaker was the first contender who sought his endorsement.
“I am just trying to end the impasse. Nobody was sure to [vote] for whom. [I didn’t see the need] to intrude but considering what happened in the last few days, and with the session starting in a few days, it’s time for me to talk,” he said.
Cayetano was the President’s running mate in the 2016 national elections and former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He is from the Nacionalista Party while Velasco is from Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban.
In his speech, the President also asked the next leaders of the lower chamber to prioritize the proposed Charter change, which he deemed as his first request.
“We have to change the Constitution, whether federal or whatnot. [I told them], If you want to change the Constitution, do it now while I’m still here,” he said.
Cayetano pledged to make the House of Representatives the “Congress of the people.”
“I’d like to start out by thanking the Lord Father Jesus for giving us strength and wisdom. We pray to the Lord to give the President good health and wisdom,” said Cayetano in a Facebook video.
He also committed to address price increases, provide jobs, and a safe and comfortable life for Filipinos through legislation.
“[I will also push for a] better relationship between House and Senate, House and Judiciary, and House and Malacañang. It will be a challenge but we are up to the challenge,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano urged his fellow lawmakers to unite and join the “Die-hard Duterte Super Majority” or DDSM.
“To all congressmen, please join the Die-hard Duterte Super Majority. The DDSM has come to town. We’re going to show that it’s not only President Duterte who has the political will but also the House of Representatives,” he added.
Terms of Speaker
Salvador S. Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel and presidential spokesman, said Cayetano will first occupy the Speaker post.
“It’s Alan Cayetano as the Speaker in the first 15 months, then the next 21 months, the Speaker will be Lord Allan Velasco, with Martin Romualdez as the majority floor leader,” Panelo said.
According to Panelo, the three candidates for the speakership sought the assistance and help of the President to settle the conflict among them.
“Since the election of the Speaker has resulted in a bitter and fractious rivalry that threatens the break-up of political allies, the President, to save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation, obliged to the request of the three candidates, who to their credit agreed to respect the choice of PRRD,” he said.
Five lawmakers are vying for the speakership namely, Cayetano, Velasco, Romualdez, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate.
The President’s son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte has backed out of the race and supported the bid of Ungab, who is from Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the party founded by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
The 18th Congress will convene and elect the next Speaker on July 22, on the same day the President will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address.