Pacquiao, Duterte to finalize PDP-Laban bet for House Speaker Thursday

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — Senator Manny Pacquiao, the campaign manager of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan's (PDP-Laban), will meet with President Rodrigo Duterte Thursday to finalize the party's contender for the House speakership race.

Pacquiao, who will leave Saturday for his fight against Keith Thurman in Las Vegas, USA next month, said the ruling party will pick its nominee for the top House post based on loyalty to the President and commitment to his agenda.

"Kung mag-suggest ang pangulo ng hindi PDP tsaka ako magsa-suggest na kailangan PDP kasi PDP ang pangulo natin... kumbaga biggest member ng party ang sa House," the senator said.

[Translation: If the President suggests someone who is not part of PDP-Laban, that's when I will suggest that the House Speaker should be from our party because the President himself is from PDP.]

READ: PDP-Laban may pick House speakership bet next week

Pacquiao added that the party can deliver 140 votes in the speakership race. PDP-Laban has more than 80 seats in the House of Representatives.

PDP-Laban has floated three bets for Speaker: Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco. Outside of the party, two other lawmakers are eyeing the post: Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez and incoming Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

READ: All the President's men: The 5-way race for the speakership

Having a PDP-Laban member as the top House leader will prevent impeachment attempts, said Pacquiao.

"Delikado eh... kasi ang tinigtignan natin dito baka mamaya last two years o last one year and a half before elections baka susuwagin na 'yung pangulo natin eh dapat tuloy-tuloy hanggang matapos," he said.

[Translation: It's delicate because it may happen that in the last year of the President, they will go against him. It should not happen, they should be consistent.]

Pacquiao, called for unity among members of PDP-Laban nationwide.

"Nanawagan ako sa lahat ng PDP congressman man o any positions sa buong pinas maging loyal tayo sa partido natin kasi kung hindi tayo maging loyal sa partido natin baka...Pangit tignan sa mga tao... hindi tayo loyal and then kapwa natin kinakalaban natin. Magkaisa tayo," he said.

[Translation: I call on all members of PDP-Laban, be it in Congress or any government position, to be loyal to our party because if we are not loyal, it may appear bad to people that we are going against each other.]

Meanwhile, reelected senator and PDP-Laban President Koko Pimentel earlier said the group will unite behind its single nominee for the position.

"We will unite behind a single nominee chosen among these three distinguished congressmen. We will stand as one in this fight with firm belief that more than ever, President Duterte needs the assurance that he can count on Congress in pushing for the much needed reforms that would uplift the lives of our people," Pimentel said in a statement on Tuesday.

Pimentel, PDP-Laban's three House Speaker nominees, and 1-Pacman Rep. Enrico Pineda attended a dinner meeting on Tuesday night hosted by Pacquiao.

"The PDP Laban, the party of President Duterte, is the biggest bloc in Congress... Therefore it is imperative that the Speaker should be come from PDP-Laban," Pimentel said.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Triciah Terrada contributed to this report.