By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) will be fielding Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco as its official nominee for Speaker in the House of Representatives.
PDP-Laban campaign manager Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao bared this in a teleconference with reporters in Quezon City Wednesday.
Pacquiao said the ruling party arrived at decision as majority of its members, including party president Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, expressed their support for Velasco to lead the House in the 18th Congress.
Party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte, however, remained mum on his personal choice as he had said he did not want to meddle with the House’s affairs. Duterte, Pacquiao recalled, had allowed the party to announce its decision.
“Ayaw makasakit ni Pangulong Duterte kaya ayaw niyang mag-announce ng gusto niyang House speaker.”
“Nauunawaan ni President Duterte at rerespetuhin niya ang desisyon ng PDP-Laban,” he added.
According to the senator, Velasco would be the best representative of the PDP-Laban in the House speakership contest.
“Sa tingin ko maganda ‘yong bata ang Speaker natin at then maaasahan din para sa (I think it would be nice if we have a young Speaker of the House and someone who can be trausted for the) welfare of the Filipino people. Na itong last three years ng ating Pangulo, ‘yong magandang panukala para sa bayan, para sa mamamayang Pilipino, walang magiging problema (That in the last three years of our President, his proposals for the country and the people would not be faced by problems),” Pacquiao, who is in Los Angeles for his upcoming fight, said when asked of Velasco’s qualities.
And since President Duterte was from PDP-Laban, and a huge number of congressmen were also from the party, it would only be proper that the next Speaker comes from the ruling party, he said.
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, PDP-Laban executive vice president, said 60 of 84 PDP-Laban congressmen have committed to support Velasco. Gonzales also sought to run in the speakership race, but conceded to partymate Velasco.
Pacquiao said congressmen from other parties have already signified their support for Velasco.
Pacquiao said they hoped President Duterte will support the official nominee of the party.
Aside from Velasco and Gonzales, the party also considered former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for the top House post.
The PDP-Laban said it was studying possible sanctions on members who will refuse to heed the party’s decision on the speakership issue. (with a report from Allysa Nievera)