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Leading bets welcome Duterte’s hands-off policy on speakership race

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By Ben Rosario 

The leading candidates for Speaker yesterday said they respected the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to let members of the House of Representative decide who the next leader of the legislative chamber will be.

Leyte Rep. and Speaker of the House candidate Martin Romualdez speaks during a caucus with congressmen from different parties at a hotel in Quezon City, June 26, 2019. Those who showed support for his Speaker bid are representatives from Nacionalista Party, PDP Laban, Liberal Party, Independent National Unity Party, Lakas-CMD Party and Nationalist Peoples Coalition. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

Leyte Rep. and Speaker of the House candidate Martin Romualdez speaks during a caucus with congressmen from different parties at a hotel in Quezon City, June 26, 2019. Those who showed support for his Speaker bid are representatives from Nacionalista Party, PDP Laban, Liberal Party, Independent National Unity Party, Lakas-CMD Party and Nationalist Peoples Coalition. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

At the same time, senior administration congressmen lauded the chief executive’s decision in junking the term-sharing proposal that was supported by Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, but rejected by prospective ruling PDP-Laban nominee, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Reps. Mikee Romero (1PACMAN Partylist) and Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) said they were strongly opposed to any term-sharing scheme that may be carried out by leading speakership bets.

Reacting to Dtuerte’s decision to leave blank his choice for Speaker, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, president of Lakas-CMD, said the chief executive just made a “selfless act that is truly commendable.”

“From the president’s latest announcement, we get the impression that he values more the independence of the House of Representatives and the congressmen’s right to elect their own leaders,” explained Romualdez, who is among the leading candidates for the top House leadership position.

Romualdez said Duterte’s endorsement would have “sealed the victory of any candidate, because congressmen “give premium value to his endorsement.”

“Let not party affiliation be the basis of voting for Speaker. Better that we have a multi-party coalition which is geared towards swift approval of the President’s legislative agenda,” Romualdez stated.

He added: “A unified Congress, after all, is what the President needs to help him realize his vision of stability and growth for our country.”

Velasco, who recently won his party’s endorsement for Speaker, said Duterte’s decision will be supported and respected by House members.

The chairman of the House Committee on Energy also noted that Duterte “never mentioned a term sharing for the position of Speaker.”

“There is a strong consensus among majority members of the House of Representatives during my series of consultation with them that term-sharing is divisive and will only impede the passage of important pieces of legislation that this administration needs to fulfill its mandate and promise to the people, said Velasco.

Romero publicly declared the anti-term-sharing stand of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc., one of the biggest political blocs in the Lower House.

He explained that by his signing an endorsement of Velasco’s stand against term-sharing, the PCFI also made known its opposition to the proposal to let Cayetano and Velasco share the three-year term under a 15-21 month cut between them.

Romero warned that such a scheme would only divide House members and result in the delay of the passage of important legislative measures proposed by th eDuterte administration.

“This term-sharing proposal of some of our colleagues will not benefit Congress as an institution and our people, but merely those who will share the term as Speaker. It is definitely bad for the nation. House leadership should never be shared. We abhor the idea,” said Atienza.

He added: “We must choose someone who is preferably a new name, a new personality with vast experience. “
Atienza endorsed the candidacy of Velasco, saying that he was expected to contribute “fresh ideas to solve age-old, recurring problems which deprive our people of the kind of economy and life meant for all of us.

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