Duterte, Sara won’t meddle in fight for speakership
MANILA, Philippines — In the absence of an endorsement by President Duterte or his daughter by proxy, the race for the speakership at the House of Representatives will weed out any pretenders to the post, a House leader said on Sunday.
Majority Leader Fredenil Castro welcomed the pronouncements of both the President and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, that neither would intervene in the battle for House leadership when the 18th Congress opens in July.
“With this decision of the President and Davao mayor, the selection of the next Speaker will be genuine, democratic and free, as it will reflect and demonstrate in no uncertain terms the real choice of the majority members and minority members as well,” he said in a text message.
“This will also show who the real ones are supportive of the President — a fact that will not surface because of a desire to be anointed only to be known by acts of betrayal after the election,” the Capiz congressman-elect added.
He said Congress needed a Speaker who was truly supportive of the Duterte administration—not those who faked their allegiance in the hope of getting a presidential anointment.
Castro, a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP), earlier expressed interest in the speakership but said he had no plans to pursue it.
The front-runners include Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano of Nacionalista Party (NP).
The new Speaker will be chosen in an election at the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22, coinciding with the President’s State of the Nation Address.
Castro said NUP, with some 26 members in the incoming Congress, would meet soon to discuss who to support in the speakership contest.
Stalwarts of NP, the second largest political party in the incoming Congress, have affirmed their support for Cayetano in the speakership race.
In a statement, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. and House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas said the party was committed to backing Cayetano’s candidacy.
Cayetano, the defeated running mate of Mr. Duterte in the 2016 election, is secretary general of the Villar-led NP.
NP will have at least 40 seats in the House, second to PDP-Laban with more than 80 seats. The Nationalist People’s Coalition will have some 36 seats while Lakas-CMD will have 11. Liberal Party secured 18 seats.
Set aside politics
Incoming lawmakers would need to set politics aside and cross party lines to ensure passage of key economic reforms in the next three years, one of the top contenders for speakership said on Sunday.
Romualdez acknowledged the challenges of enacting the President’s priority measures in only three years.
But “nothing is impossible if we all set our sights on that goal,” the president of Lakas-CMD said in a statement.
“All we need is to unite as one body and set politics aside. If need be, we have to cross party lines to help the President lift our people from poverty,” Romualdez added.
The next Speaker will replace Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose term is expiring.
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