By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
The ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) will let its party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte choose members who will be fielded as their bet to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The pronouncement came from Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco following the ruling party’s thanksgiving dinner last Wednesday in San Juan City.
Velasco, one of the perennial contenders to succeed former President and outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo next Congress, said PDP members are just waiting directives from the Chief Executive on who among the three party stalwarts will be fielded in the highly-contested Speakership race in July.
Aside from Velasco, two other members of the ruling party are also vying for the top seat in the Lower House and these include incumbent party secretary-general and former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales.
“We are waiting for the President being the chairman of the party to tell which one between the 3 of us—Dong Gonzales, Former Speaker Alvarez and me. So we will just wait for the president to tell us, which one,” said Velasco
“I think that’s where the party is going. We are going to submit a list for the president. (Him) being the chairman of PDP, we will just wait for instructions kung sino po ang dadalahin ng PDP—candidate ng PDP for Speaker,” Velasco added.
Velasco stressed that there should only be one PDP bet vying for the Speakership.
PolitikoPH first reported last week that the highly anticipated battle for Speakership could be reduced to a mere formality for Velasco since he is reportedly the President’s personal choice to lead the 303-man Lower House this coming Juy following their private meeting at presidential residence inside Bahay Pagbabago last May 17.
The Velasco couple also hosted a separate private lunch meeting with Mayor Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte last May 21 at the EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City, wherein, the Presidential daughter gave an assurance to the Marinduque solon that he will be Arroyo’s successor next Congress.
Alvarez, a staunched political nemesis of the Presidential daughter admitted last week that he is planning the regain the Speakership following his successful reelection bid as district legislator of Davao del Norte while Gonzales is reportedly a compromise candidate if the former House Speaker failed to secure the chief executive’s endorsement.
The Speakership battle for the incoming 18th Congress is projected to be a three-way battle between Velasco, and Representatives-elect Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte).