‘Speakership race far from over,’ says Zarate
MANILA, Philippines — With barely a week before the opening of the 18th Congress, the battle for the House speakership is far from over despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, the Makabayan bloc said on Tuesday.
“There are still strong whispers that there are people who want to contest that decision,” said the bloc’s leader, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who earlier announced his plan to run for Speaker.
15-21 term sharing
“We have seen that the issue is not yet settled despite the pronouncement of the President that he has an anointed,” the opposition lawmaker told a press briefing.
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by the President, Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months, with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco taking over for the remaining 21 months of the term.
A third contender for the speakership, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, will be the House majority leader.
The next Speaker will be elected when the 18th Congress opens on July 22, the same day the President delivers his State of the Nation Address.
But Zarate said there was an effort to derail the deal, though he would not name names.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said she had also heard of grumblings from disgruntled House members who were unhappy with the term-sharing agreement.
“In Makabayan, we would like to assert the right of each lawmaker to vote according to their conscience and not the dictates of the President,” she said.
Clashes of interest
Zarate said it appeared that a number of House members were still not convinced that Cayetano should lead the House.
“There are also clashes of interest in terms of allocation of House positions. You know there are posts that are highly coveted,” he said.
The Makabayan leader warned that the Cayetano-Velasco deal would be disruptive to the 300-strong chamber.
As for the six-member Makabayan bloc, he said his group was intent on pushing its own plans.
“We are still prepared. There’s no backing down. We will contest the speakership,” Zarate said.
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