Duterte's bet for Speaker to push for longer terms for lawmakers

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Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte’s choice for Speaker of the House of Representatives aims to push for measures to extend lawmakers' terms in office.

"While we will push for federalism, I think there is a way that the Senate will agree, that we push either for four years no term limit, or 5 years three term limit,” Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano said before a gathering of lawmakers. “It is not a political thing. It is a practical thing.”

He did not elaborate on the term extension. But House members currently have a three-year term and can serve no more than three consecutive terms. Senators are elected to a six-year term, serving no more than two consecutive terms.

Present in the meeting were Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and his supporters in the House. Romualdez, earlier a contender for the speakership post, has dropped out of the race and accepted Duterte's suggestion that he become majority leader instead.

Before Cayetano spoke, Romualdez introduced him as the “next Speaker.”

"We're here rallying behind you, and all I ask is kindly take good care of all of us here,” Romualdez said.

The Taguig-Pateros solon had a lot of plans should he assume the position for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, as endorsed by Duterte. These include retaining the committee chairmanships at the start of the session except for the Committee on Accounts, and considering new lawmakers in the House for vice chairmanships of other panels.

Cayetano also said he does not want to end his term as Speaker as a “failure.”

“I'm asking all of you: let us be the most disruptive Congress in the sense we disrupted the status quo and we can deliver more,” he said.

Cayetano added he will be meeting with the President’s party, PDP-Laban, on Thursday. The PDP-Laban had endorsed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for the speakership — and Duterte said the three contenders for the post agreed on Velasco taking the subsequent 21 months after Cayetano.

Duterte's endorsement is seen as a crucial influence in the outcome of the race in a House dominated by administration allies, but the lawmakers will still need to cast their votes on their choice of leader. The speakership is key position of power in the lead-up to the 2022 presidential race, and can boost or weaken chances of success of the Duterte administration's legislative agenda.