Businessman Ramon Ang denies meddling in House Speakership race

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — Businessman Ramon Ang washed his hands clean of any involvement in the House Speakership race, denying claims made by Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano that he is backing one of the candidates.

Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corp., broke his silence to say he is not involved in the tight race to the much-coveted Speaker's seat in the 18th Congress, contrary to Cayetano's claims that he is behind the bid of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco.

“That is untrue. I know all of them, but I’m not supporting anyone in particular. It’s unfortunate that Rep. Cayetano has to resort to making these insinuations," Ang said in a statement on Monday.

READ: Cayetano disappointed with Velasco's refusal to share Speakership term

Cayetano, also an aspiring Speaker, has confirmed previous allegations made by former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that there is vote-buying within the halls of Batasan, ahead of the official opening of sessions on July 22. Back in May, Alvarez said there were aspiring Speakers offering ₱500,000 per lawmaker just to secure their vote, while another responded with a ₱1-million offer.

The former senator and Foreign Affairs secretary also alleged that Ang has been carrying Velasco, who was also named as the bet of the ruling PDP-Laban political party. Velasco is a close friend of the Duterte family. He has thrown grand birthday parties for President Rodrigo Duterte in the past two years.

READ: ‘Congressmen are not for sale’: House leaders deny Alvarez’ vote-buying claims

On the contrary, Ang said Cayetano personally knows what his relationship to lawmakers is like: "I have never exerted influence or asked for political favors. In fact, he himself (Cayetano) can attest to this because he has sought my help many times."

For the billionaire businessman, Ang said the race to the rostrum "is down to the President’s choice, or who his party chooses."

"I am not part of that. I don’t think anyone, no matter what they do, can influence the President or Congress,” Ang added. “I’m a friend to most, but I have never campaigned for any specific politician to advance our businesses."

Ang has been actively taking part in the Duterte administration's infrastructure drive. He has submitted unsolicited proposals for a new water source, an EDSA bus terminal, and even the Bulacan international airport.