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Ruling party undecided on House bet for Speaker

The ruling PDP-Laban has yet to choose among its three nominees who will vie for the position of speaker of the House in the 18th Congress.

PDP-Laban president Aquilino Pimentel III merely said a dinner meeting hosted by Senator Manny Pacquaio in his Makati residence offered an opportunity for “great camaraderie” but did not offer any details on who the party would support for Speaker—reportedly one of the items on the agenda.    

Outside of the party, Lakas-CMD president and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a three-term congressman, is considered a strong contender for the position.

In a statement, Pimentel said he would delegate the task and responsibility of announcing the party’s nominee for the House Speaker to Pacquiao, who acted as the PDP-Laban campaign manager in the recently-concluded national and local elections.

“He will do so after following an agreed-upon process. Hence from now on please interview Senator Pacquiao when it comes to the PDP- Laban nominee for House Speaker,” Pimentel said.

Ron Munsayac, the party’s spokesperson, said they have narrowed the list to three—former speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco.

Alvarez was ousted as speaker and was replaced by Pampanga congresswoman and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the day President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address last year.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte was believed to be behind Alvarez’s removal after he criticized her regional party, the Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

The HNP led by the Davao mayor who was also its campaign manager had campaigned for the administration-backed senatorial candidates in the midterm elections.

Gonzales was formerly a member of Lakas-Kampi-CMD but switched to PDP-Laban during the 2016 elections.

Before elected as congressman in 2013, he was a provincial board member of Pampanga.

Velasco, who became congressman in February 2016 after he won in his election protest, was the emcee in the HNP campaign sorties.

Outside of the party, Lakas-CMD president and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a three-term congressman, is considered a strong contender for the position.

The Davao mayor has endorsed both Romualdez and Velasco.

The President endorsed former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who has given up his Foreign Affairs portfolio for a chance to bang the speaker’s gavel in the 18th Congress.

Munsayac also said the PDP Laban is the party of President Duterte and is the biggest bloc in the House of Representatives with more than 80 members.

He earlier said that contesting their nominee for the speakership would be an exercise in futility.

“Others can try but it will be an exercise in futility,” said Munsayac.

Pimentel said it was imperative that the speaker should be come from PDP-Laban.

He said the party would unite behind a single nominee.

“We will stand united in ensuring that we will have a speaker who can truly work not only with his peers in the House but also with the members of the Senate,” said Pimentel.

‘Most qualified’

Two lawmakers on Wednesday said Romualdez’s management and leadership skills make him the most qualified candidate for the speakership.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda recognized Romualdez’s track record and persuasive skills that would help the incoming 18th Congress back the President’s structural reforms.

“He is the most experienced and competent candidate and can handily win the speakership race in a free for all fight. Martin is a very credible leader who has the respect of his colleagues. His commitment to help President Duterte, especially in approving vital bills is beyond question,” said Suarez.

Salceda said Romualdez’s knowledge and vast experience in the financial markets and the field of economics would help expedite the enactment into laws of President Duterte’s economic reform agenda.

Pacquiao said President Duterte, the party’s chairman, will have the last say on who will be the PDP-Laban nominee for the House speakership.

He added that it is important that the nominee has the blessing of the President and Pimentel.

Pacquiao said he would meet with the President before he leaves for the United States for his boxing match. They expect a decision before Saturday.

If the President recommends a nominee who is not from the PDP-Laban, Pacquiao said he would suggest he choose someone from their party.

READ: ‘Romualdez shoo-in as speaker’

READ: Romualdez pushes Duterte reforms

READ: ‘Romualdez can boost Duterte’s economic plans’

Topics: PDP-Laban , House of Representatives , speakership , Aquilino Pimentel III , Manny Pacquaio , Martin Romualdez
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