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Romualdez takes majority leader post; House smooth sailing seen

There will be no delays in congressional procedures despite the term-sharing agreement for the speakership, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that the term-sharing agreement between Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco—which had the blessings of President Rodrigo Duterte—would not disrupt the work of Congress.

Duterte on Monday night ended the speakership squabble by endorsing both Cayetano and Velasco for the top post in the House.

Duterte said Cayetano will serve as the House Speaker in the first 15 months, while Velasco will occupy the post in the remaining 21 months.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who was a top contender in the speakership post, will sit as the House majority leader, Duterte said.

READ: 3 power blocs go for Martin

Critics have voiced concerns that the term-sharing between Cayetano and Velasco will jeopardize committee hearings and the passage of the national budget when the Congress opens on July 22.

“They agreed that it will not happen to them because the three of them are talking,” Panelo said.

The Palace also dismissed fears that the transition between Cayetano and Velasco will undermine the continuity of committee leadership and passage of crucial bills pushed by the Duterte administration.

“No, because the rivals forged into unity. How can there be disruption?” Panelo said.

Asked if Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab will get a share in the speakership, Panelo said: “I think that’s unlikely.”

Ungab was the candidate for Speaker supported by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the coalition formed by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Despite the Palace-brokered deal, Panelo said House members will have the final say when choosing their leaders.

“It’s up to them because they will vote, not the President. He’s only interfering in their politics, not their jobs,” Panelo said in Filipino.

The Chief Executive initially kept his hands off the speakership race but intervened to resolve the leadership question that has bugged the House for weeks.

“The President, to save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation, obliged the request of the three candidates, who to their credit agree to respect the choice of PRRD,” Panelo said in a statement that was issued shortly after the President announced his choice for House leaders.

Romualdez on Tuesday said he has accepted the President’s decision for him to become House majority leader for a three-year term.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda made the announcement after Romualdez called a meeting of his supporters at the Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City Tuesday.

“We unanimously agreed to follow the wish of the President on the speakership and Martin is accepting the position of the majority leader,” said Salceda, one of the staunch supporters of Romualdez in the speakership race.

The 54-strong Party-list Coalition in the House of Representatives on Tuesday said it supports Cayetano—“for now.”

The group’s president, 1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero made the announcement following President Duterte’s declaration of a term-sharing agreement.

“We haven’t changed our position to vote as a bloc. We will vote as a 54-member bloc. We are for the President’s choice,” said Romero at a news conference after the group held a meeting at a hotel in Pasig City.

The party-list bloc initially agreed to just choose between Velasco and Romualdez.

A pro-administration lawmaker, meanwhile, said the term sharing agreement for the speakership is the most equitable solution to their standoff for the House of Representatives' top position.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte described the term sharing deal brokered by President Duterte as the “win-win” arrangement between the two protagonists who have been fighting tooth and nail for the position.

In a forum Tuesday, political analysts said Duterte’s moves to install allied lawmakers as speaker indicated his desire to shift the country to a federal system of government.

This was the view shared by Ado Paglinawwan, a former Philippine diplomat to Washington DC., and Ramon Casiple, executive director for the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

READ: 'Pulong' opts out of race for speaker

READ: Romualdez best bet—poll

Topics: term-sharing agreement , Salvador Panelo , Alan Peter Cayetano , Lord Allan Velasco , Rodrigo Duterte , Martin Romualdez
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