The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan is set to announce before Saturday the ruling party’s nominee in the race for the House speakership in the 18th Congress, said Senator Manny Pacquiao.
The party’s president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, had designated Pacquiao, PDP-Laban campaign manager in the midterm elections last May, as official spokesman on matters concerning the speakership.
Pacquiao said they will choose from their three contenders—Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., and Davao del Norte and former House Speaker Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, the nominee the party will support.
He said the selection process will be done before he leaves Saturday for a boxing match with Keith Thurman in Las Vegas, United States.
Pacquiao said they will meet first with President Rodrigo Duterte to finalize their choice for the House’s top post.
Newly elected Senator Christopher Go cited the need to immediately choose their nominee to break the impasse.
On the other hand, Pacquiao said their choice of the candidate for the next House Speaker will be based on loyalty to the President and his agenda and programs of governance.
The final say for the nominee who will be fielded against other aspirants will be the President, Pacquiao said.
On Thursday, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo reiterated the President will not interfere in selecting the next Speaker. He also proposed to the ruling party to choose their nominee through secret balloting to get the sentiments of the members.
Outside the PDP-Laban, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, president of the Lakas-CMD, has been perceived as the strongest contender for the speakership race.
Another aspirant is Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano who quit as Foreign Affairs secretary to run for Congress.
But PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said party-list coalition members have narrowed down their choices to Romualdez and Velasco, believing they are the only ones serious in their bid and have strong connections with the party-list groups.
Pacquiao remains confident PDP-Laban can deliver 140 votes in the speakership race. He said the votes would come from the more than 80 seats of the party in the House of Representatives and their party lists, which are allied with them.
The senator also said that with a member of the party occupying the highest seat in the House, any impeachment move against the President would be stopped.
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