By Ben Rosario
Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Malacanang’s choice for speaker of the House of Representatives, called for the restructuring of the deputy speakership system by creating new posts for key members who will be tasked to oversee legislative work and ensure efficiency in the passage of measures.
This early, however, political analysts are warning against the move that might sap the plenary authority and powers of the deputy speakers and majority leader, who is expected to be occupied by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
In a caucus with PDP-Laban congressmen led by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Cayetano proposed the creation of deputy speakership posts for finance, ways and means, education, economic development, and internal affairs, naming returning Mandaluyong City Neptali Gonzales III to the last post.
Cayetano, who has been endorsed by President Duterte to become speaker in the next 15 months, said the deputy speakership system will have to be revised but eight regional posts will be retained.
From the existing 14 deputy speakers so chosen for their regional representation, there will now be deputy speakers for Northern, Central, and Southern Luzon; Eastern and Western Visayas, Southern and Northern Mindanao and for Metro Manila.
While he did not mention the appointment of a deputy speaker for Bangsamoro, Cayetano, who has been championing the cause of Muslims, is expected to retain this position in the House organizational structure.
Cayetano specified that Gonzales will be deputy speaker for internal affairs who will have the power to approve programs and decisions that, based on the decision of the majority leader, no longer requires the imprimatur of the speaker.
During the caucus, the presumptive speaker defended Cabinet officials from accusations that they have been interfering in the legislative affairs of the Lower House.
“We just want a better relationship with the judiciary, a better relationship with the Senate and better relationship with the Cabinet,” he said.
Reacting to Cayetano’s plans, political analyst Prof. Dennis Coronacion warned that appointing Gonzales as deputy speaker for internal affairs might be misconstrued as a move to “undermine” the agreement of the three speakership candidates that was brokered by President Duterte.
Like Cayetano and Velasco, Romualdez had received a presidential endorsement to become the next majority leader.
Coronacion, chairman of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Political Science Department, said Cayetano’s move was apparently calculated at making sure that “people working closely with him are those who are loyal”.