Ungab to abide by HNP in speakership race
DAVAO CITY –– Davao City Third District Representative Isidro Ungab vowed to abide by the will of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) with respect to the Speakership race that has heated up in the last few days.
“I am deeply honored for the endorsement as House Speaker. I am a good soldier under the command of every Filipino. I am ready, willing and capable to serve in any capacity,” Ungab said in a statement that he issued following the regional party’s throwing in his name into the Speakership fray Wednesday.
“HNP is ready and open to work with everyone. HNP hopes that everyone will aim for and work towards unity and cooperation in order to establish a strong and efficient House,” Ungab said.
“Rest assured that HNP has a vision of a House that will truly work for and serve the best interest and welfare of the Filipino people,” Ungab added.
He said he was committed to supporting the legislative agenda of President Duterte for fostering economic growth, lowering poverty incidence, and helping create more opportunities for all Filipinos.
Earlier, the HNP, which is headed by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, put forward Ungab as its shoo-in for Speaker, citing the slow pace in coming up with a consensus among various contenders for the top House leadership.
Until Ungab came into the picture, the Speakership race appeared to be a three-cornered fight between Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
To resolve the impasse, Cayetano offered a term-sharing deal with Velasco, considered a front-runner, to no avail.
Velasco belongs to President Duterte’s Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP), which has the biggest numbers in the House.
With no consensus in sight, presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte on Tuesday announced a tentative plan to join the Speakership race.
“The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it,” the younger Duterte said.
He proposed that the three-year term of the Speaker be split between representatives from Visayas and Mindanao, and party list groups.
HNP’s search for a viable bet for Speaker took off from the younger Duterte’s announcement.
“We understand if President [Rodrigo] Duterte, because of delicadeza, will not accept the intent of our brother from Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, Congressman Paolo Duterte, to resolve the conflict among candidates,” HNP said.
“Therefore, we are endorsing the bid of Congressman Isidro Ungab for Speaker,” it added.
The HNP cited that prior to its decision to field Ungab, they “have been patiently observing the developments in the House of Representatives.”
With Ungab as Speaker, HNP asked the other contenders to agree on its proposed portfolio for each of them: Cayetano as Majority Leader, Velasco to head the Appropriations Committee, and Romualdez to head the Committee on Accounts.
“We earnestly hope that everyone can see the light in this option and move forward with urgency in serving our country,” the HNP statement read.
The HNP banks on Ungab’s long career as House member in his ability to lead the chamber.
Already a four-term congressman, Ungab was chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means in the 15th Congress, helping shepherd the amendments to the Sin Tax Law in 2012.
In the 16th Congress, he chaired the powerful Committee on Appropriations.
A resident of Calinan, Ungab started his political career as Councilor in Davao City’s third district in 1995, completing three consecutive terms.
He became Congressman in 2007 and completed three terms in 2016. He staged a political comeback in the recent midterm polls.
Ungab holds an Agricultural Economics degree from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
Pork barrel scandal
In 2013, Ungab was embroiled in the pork barrel scandal after it was found that he earmarked P34 million of his Congressional funds in 2009 and 2010 for National Livelihood Development Corp., one of the state firms linked to the scam overseen by Janet Lim-Napoles.
A report of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed that of the total amount in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that Ungab shelled out for NLDC, P12 million was released in 2009 and an additional P7 million and P15 million in 2010.
Ungab’s camp, however, pointed out “the assistance had reached the poor in far-flung barangays (villages) of the third district.” (Editor: Leti Boniol)
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