By Charissa Luci-Atienza
With President Duterte’s declaration that he would not endorse his choice for speaker, lawmakers now consider the proposed term-sharing for the speakership as dead, and warned that reviving it would be a sign of “weakness” and “political sloth.”
Capiz Rep. Fredenil “Fred” Castro and Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said having the term-sharing pact between Marinduque‘s Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig-Pateros’ Alan Peter Cayetano is aimed at eliminating Leyte’s Martin Romualdez, who already has the backing of more than 100 House members.
“Insisting on term sharing is indicative of weakness if not, political sloth. They want to be spoon-fed, bereft of any mandate from members of the House of Representatives,” Castro, president of the National Unity Party (NUP), said in an interview.
“Is this cowardice indicative of absence of numbers in support of their convenient dream to Speaker of the House?” Castro, who served as Deputy Speaker and Majority Leader during the previous 17th Congress, added.
Defensor, a former Malacañang Chief of Staff, said term-sharing was proposed in the past “because I would think many if not all of the majority of the House membership, knew that Congressman Martin Romualdez had the numbers. By having term-sharing, it would easily cancel him out.”
He said since President Duterte has spoken and even asked former Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to name her successor, the ball is now in the hands of the House members.
“It will be up to each member of Congress to vote for who they think is best to lead Congress and to be part of the national leadership in pushing this nation forward under the administration of President Duterte,” Defensor said.
During the coalition caucus of major political parties and influential blocs last week, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, a stalwart of the PDP-Laban, said at least 178 congressmen, including 40 PDP-Laban members, already signed a manifesto supportingr Romualdez.
Oriental Mindoro’s Salvador Leachon strongly rejected term-sharing, saying it “abdicates from members their supreme freedom to choose their leader.”
“Tenure of thee years is in fact one of the worst attributes of the Constitution as it does not address continuity but moreso disrupts existing good programs that incumbents wish to implement – splitting it more to two makes insensible House leadership,” he said.
Castro, who is for Romuladez, said the speakership bets should lead the national debates on pressing issues.
“Instead of insisting being anointed, under the masquerade of term-sharing, the candidates should move on through a more democratic of process of casting their votes and spare the President from being accused of usurping if not, depriving the members of the House of representatives of their opportunity to vote based on the dictate of their conscience without mentioning that it is a patent disrespect, if not, downright defiance of the wishes of the President to observe and reinforce the establish principle of separation of government powers,” he said.