Party-list coalition to support Rody or Sara’s bet for speaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — The 54-member strong party-list coalition will vote for whoever President Rodrigo Duterte endorses in the speakership race.

The group’s incoming president, 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, said it will be hard to go against Duterte’s preference for Speaker because the lawmaker he anoints is the likely winner.

“This is a numbers game. This is the House of Representatives. Kung anong piliin ng Presidente tingin ko naman ‘yan rin ang mapipili dito,” Romero said Tuesday.

[Translation: This is a numbers game. This is the House of Representatives. Whoever the President picks, I think he will be the one who will be chosen here.]

Duterte is expected to pick from three lawmakers from his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan for Speaker, namely, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales.

Gonzales said it is important for the next Speaker to come from the ruling party so he can effectively push for Duterte’s legislative agenda.

However, Duterte has not yet announced his pick for Speaker and Malacañang has said that the House is on its own in choosing its next leader.

In case Duterte does not endorse any candidate for Speaker, Romero said the party-list coalition will consider the choice of his daughter, the “closest principal,” Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Sara has not made her bet for Speaker known, but she is rumored to be backing the candidacy of Velasco — a close ally of the Dutertes who has thrown birthday bashes for the President in 2017 and 2018.

Sara was instrumental in the ouster of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his replacement by Pampanga 1st District Rep. and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the day of her father’s third State of the Nation Address.

Aside from Alvarez, Velasco and Gonzales, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez are also vying for the speakership.

All of them, except Alvarez, have met with the party-list coalition — the second-largest voting bloc in the House — to hear their plans for the 18th Congress.

Romero said they will vote as a bloc in the speakership race.