Velasco, Cayetano, Romualdez seeking party-list coalition’s vote
MANILA, Philippines — The battle for the next House Speaker is on.
Three contenders for the position courted Thursday the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. hoping to get its “bloc vote” in the 18th Congress.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the coalition has at least 50 members of the 61 party-list representatives elected in the midterm elections, and this time, they would let no one treat them as “second class” House members.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Velasco from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano from Nacionalista Party, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez from Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats presented their plans for the 18th Congress to the party-list group in a general assembly.
“We will vote as a bloc… Kasi ayaw na naming tina-trato kaming second class… Kailangan din matrato kami bilang equal sa House,” Garbin said in an interview at the Marco Polo hotel on Ortigas Avenue where the general assembly was held.
(We will vote as a bloc because we do not want to be treated as second class members of the House. They need to treat us as equals.)
Although they have started scrutinizing the prospective speakers, Garbin said they are going to wait for President Rodrigo Duterte’s choice. 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero, the president of the coalition in the incoming Congress, said Duterte’s word would have a bearing on their decision.
“Of course kung sino man ‘yung pipiliin ni Presidente would give a lot of weight but ang coalition bloc is looking at what would be the most beneficial to the constituents,” Romero said.
(Of course, the President’s choice will carry a lot of weight, but the coalition bloc is looking at what would be the most beneficial to the constituents.)
Garbin said they also invited former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who had signified his plan to regain the speakership, but he was in Davao during the assembly.
He said the coalition would also invite Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, but they are unsure if Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. would seek the speakership.
Romualdez vowed to work for “proper representation” of party-lists in committees as well as equal “budget allocations.” He said he is hoping for Duterte and outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s blessing.
Velasco, 41, could be the youngest House Speaker since Sergio Osmeña. He said the coalition is “definitely a force to reckon with.” The coalition is the second-largest group in the House next to the PDP-Laban bloc.
The district congressman expressed confidence that he has the “trust and confidence” of the President and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“I guess during our campaign trail, the three months that we were together at the HNP (Hugpong ng Pagbabago), I think Mayor Inday… she gave me her trust and confidence to be the next Speaker,” Velasco added.
Cayetano, meanwhile, refused to be interviewed.
All of those vying to be the next Speaker are known allies of the present administration and have vowed to pursue the President’s legislative agenda in the 18th Congress, which is expected to be dominated by a supermajority of pro-administration lawmakers.
The 17th Congress will adjourn sine die on June 8, while the 18th Congress will open on July 22, the same day the next Speaker would be elected and Duterte would deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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