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Magkasabwat? Alvarez’s antics paving way for Cayetano Speakership

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POLITIKO - The bible of Philippine Politics

By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Former House Speaker and reelected Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez reportedly has forged a secret alliance with the camp of returning Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano to secure the victory of the former chief diplomat in the hotly-contested Speakership race.

Politiko learned that several colleagues of Alvarez in the House of Representatives including those from the ruling administration party, PDP Laban are not considering the former Speaker as a serious candidate for the House leadership this coming 18th Congress since many were traumatized over his style of leadership during his two-year stint in the office.

A party-list solon who requested anonymity disclosed that the Speakership bid of Alvarez at present was anform of “deception” and “cover-up” so that the 83-members of the ruling party will remain divided, considering that two other party members were also vying for the highest seat in the chamber namely Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Mendoza.

Having the ruling party torn between three Speaker-wannabes is an advantage for Cayetano—who just received endorsement from his mother unit, the Nacionalista Party (NP) which has 43 members next Congress and the 27-man National Unity Party (NUP)—since it would now be a five-way fight for the Speakership battle, considering that Lakas-CMD chairman and incoming Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is also being considered as a perennial contender for the post.

With a looming five-way battle ahead of the Speakership race in July, Cayetano doesn’t need the support of up to 153 lawmakers since he can win via “plurality of votes” especially if PDP Laban solons will not reach a consensus to just field a single candidate.

The role of Alvarez according to another legislator from Visayas is to make sure that the ruling party will not reach a consensus in fielding a lone candidate for the House leadership especially that President Rodrigo Duterte, who is the chairman of PDP Laban refused to chose who among his three party mates will be their official candidate for the Speakership.

Many House members also noticed that Alvarez’s attacks and criticisms to his other rivals were only focused to Velasco and Romualdez but not Cayetano.

The solon who hails from a province in Region 6 added it is possible that Cayetano and Alvarez already have a gentlemen’s agreement wherein, the former Foreign Affairs secretary will allow the former House leader to join the majority bloc at later time so that he can choose on whatever available “juicy committees” in the table with the exception of course of the powerful Appropriations panel.

The former Speaker can also become the Minority Leader if he chooses to, so that his district can’t be set aside during the budget deliberations for the 2020 National Expenditure Programs (NEP) since billions worth of “line item projects” in the first district of Davao del Norte were line-vetoed by the President when the 2019 budget was approved in March.

“Hindi malabong mangyari ‘yang ganyang eksena. Malaki kasi ang nawala si distrito ni Speaker Bebot nitong 2019 budget,” said the Visayan solon.

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