Suggestions of a term-sharing arrangement for the speakership in the 18th Congress are dead after President Rodrigo Duterte declined to endorse any of the aspirants coming from his PDP-Laban party, lawmakers said Sunday.
“Insisting on term sharing is indicative of weakness if not political sloth,” said Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, after one of the PDP-Laban aspirants, incoming Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, attacked the other, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, rejected a proposal that they share the three-year term.
“They want to be spoon-fed, bereft of any mandate from members of the House of Representatives,” Castro said of those who supported a term sharing deal.
Castro and Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said a term-sharing agreement would have been the easiest way to get rid of a serious contender from outside the party, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who leads the Lakas-CMD.
Both said they believed Romualdez has the numbers to be the next Speaker.
On Wednesday, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, a stalwart of the PDP-Laban, said that during the coalition caucus of major political parties and influential blocs called by Romualdez, at least 178 lawmakers signed a manifesto of support for him.READ: ‘Romualdez wins over 153 solons’
“Many if not... the majority of the House membership knew that congressman Martin Romualdez had the numbers…. [T]erm sharing… would easily cancel him out,” Defensor said.
“But now that the President already decided against term sharing, it will be up to each member of Congress to vote for who they think is best to lead Congress and to be part of the national leadership in pushing this nation forward under the administration of the President,” he said.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Paulino Salvador Leachon said: “term sharing abdicates from members their supreme freedom to choose their leader.”
The three-year term was short enough to be a problem in terms of continuity, he said. Splitting the term in half would be even more “insensible,” he added.
At the same time, Castro and 1-Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta reminded Senator Manny Pacquiao to observe inter-parliamentary courtesy and stop meddling in the selection of the next Speaker.
“Why endorse [a candidate for the leadership] here? Why not at the Senate? Why focus on the speakership? You cannot vote here because you are not a congressman,” Marcoleta said, addressing Pacquiao directly.
Several PDP-Laban stalwarts, led by former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez earlier challenged Pacquiao's statement that the party was endorsing the speakership of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, saying there had been no consultations.
On Sunday, Romualdez assured the country’s economic managers that the upcoming 18th Congress would align its legislative agenda with President Rodrigo Duterte’s medium-term development plan aimed at lowering the high incidence of poverty almost by half in 2022.
“I have already relayed this commitment to the President and his economic team. The House of Representatives will work double-time to act on the President’s priority bills, especially those aimed at improving the lives of our people,” said Romualdez, a strong contender to be the next speaker.
READ: ‘Romualdez can boost Duterte’s economic plans’
He said key leaders of the House of Representatives have committed in a multi-party caucus to act swiftly on the President’s priority economic bills to help fulfill his vision of transforming the country into an upper-middle income economy by 2022.
Romualdez said he had accepted an invitation by the President’s economic team to an event ahead of the State of the Nation Address, to discuss their proposed priority bills for the 18th Congress.
The President’s economic bills were among the measures included in the priority list agreed upon during the recent multi-party caucus of House leaders in Quezon City.
The caucus drew the attendance of 40 House leaders from various political parties and blocs in the 18th Congress including the PDP-Laban, Lakas-CMD, Nacionalista Party, Liberal Party, and the Party-List Coalition.
Romualdez said the House leaders were unanimous about backing the President’s legislative agenda, and that all agreed to act swiftly for the passage of laws needed to propel economic growth to new heights.
“We know that we face a Herculean task, but nothing is impossible with a House united. The multi-party coalition is committed in aligning our efforts to the President’s medium-term development plan or the new Philippine development plan,” he said.
READ: Rody neutral on Speaker bet
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