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PDP anoints Velasco

Hananeel Bordey



After several weeks of a political guessing game, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) made known yesterday that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will be the party’s pick as Speaker over two other members angling for the post.

Senator Manny Pacquiao, in a remote video feed from Los Angeles, California where he is preparing for a boxing bout, announced the party had finalized its decision since June 23 in favor of Velasco.

“The majority of PDP has signed a manifesto of support for our candidate. By the power vested in me by the party, I am therefore announcing the support of the PDP to Congressman Lord Allan Velasco as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the full term of the 18th Congress,” Pacquiao said.

The lawmaker said that the party considered Velasco because he can be relied on in terms of delivering the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Key ally

Pacquiao emphasized anew that Velasco will play a key role as Mr. Duterte enters the second half of his six-year term.

He added majority of the party members including party president re-elected Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel have agreed to support Velasco as they were told by the President to unite behind him and that he doesn’t want to hurt his friends and allies.

Party stalwarts, Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Pampanga Rep. Dong Gonzales have also announced their bids but the PDP decided to choose only one official candidate for speakership.

Pacquiao, who the party tapped to announce its choice for House leader, asserted that since the president came from PDP, the House of Representatives should have a leader which will come from the ruling party.

He insisted that choosing the House leader from PDP will prevent the derailing of key legislation that the administration is pushing.

“Let us remember that the President is a PDP member which I will not emphasize but right now, the biggest party in Congress is PDP. So, I think it is only appropriate that the Speaker will come from the party,” he said.

Politics not his game

Until the PDP announcement, President Rodrigo Duterte refused to indicate a personal choice for Speaker.

In a statement, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Chief Executive would rather focus on governing the country and solving its problems rather than “play politics” in endorsing someone to be the next leader of the House of Representatives.

According to him, Mr. Duterte is “comfortable with any of the candidates” aspiring to be the successor of outgoing Speaker and Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as they are all his allies and would choose to remain neutral on the issue.

“The Chief Executive would rather focus on the business of governance rather than play politics and ruffle the feelings of those outside of his preferred choice. The latter is simply not the character and style of the Chief Executive,” Panelo added.

“President Duterte is confident that the next House leader would shepherd his legislative agenda for the nation’s best interest and the people’s general welfare,” he added.

Panelo furthered by expressing optimism that members of the House will choose the best man for the job even without the backing of the Chief Executive.

Alvarez, who was among the contenders for the top House post, said the candidate who he will support will come from the President’s decision, which was the agreed process.

Alvarez said he was surprised by the announcement that Velasco is the party’s official candidate for the House position.

“Whoever the President felt to be the right person for the position, I will support him,” he said.

Another aspirant, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said naming Velasco “was an internal matter for PDP. We respect whatever their pronouncements are. I just want to make sure that we are working in unison. I respect the pronouncmeent and I leave it at that.”

Numbers game

Gonzales, who presided the PDP media briefing, said that 60 out of 84 PDP members had signed the manifesto which consolidates the party’s vote for Velasco.

They said that there will be sanctions imposed on PDP members who will not vote for the party’s choice on July 22.

The party was also confident that Velasco will dominate the fight as he already got 200 incoming House members who will back his bid after four major blocs signed another manifesto throwing support to the lawmaker.

The said manifesto was signed by Gonzales in behalf of PDP members, Rizal Rep. Michale John Duavit and Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian in behalf of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, incoming Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson in behalf of Northern Luzon Alliance and 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero in behalf of the Partylist Coalition.

Gonzales said that after a mass oath-taking in Malacañang last Tuesday, they tackled the manifesto with some Palace officials but when asked if the president is wary of the said agreement, Gonzales did not give other details.

With Kristina Maralit