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HnP flips win-win deal

Hananeel Bordey

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A compromise deal has been tossed to rivals for the House’s top post by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-led regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) in which returning Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab will emerge as Speaker.

President Rodrigo Duterte is not expected to support his son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte’s speakership bid.

“We suggest that Cong. Alan Peter Cayetano take the Majority Leader position, Cong. Lord Alan Velasco take the Appropriations Committee and Cong. Martin Romualdez to head the Accounts Committee,” HnP said. “We earnestly hope that everyone can see the light in this option and move forward with urgency in serving our country,” the party statement said.

The HnP said it understands Mr. Duterte will not back Rep. Duterte in running for the post due to delicadeza.

The party said that after it “patiently observed” the developments in the House of Representatives, HnP chose Ungab as their official bet.

“We understand if President Duterte, because of delicadeza, will not accept the intent of our brother from Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, Congressman Paolo Duterte, to resolve the conflict among candidates, therefore, we are endorsing the bid of Congressman Isidro Ungab for Speaker,” the statement read.

The friction in the Speakership race was primarily brought about by the insistence of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano on a term-sharing deal.

The ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) said it is now open to the idea of term-sharing provided that its official candidate, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, will take the first few months of the three-year term as House leader.

PDP president and Sen. Koko Pimentel said the party will heed the term-sharing deal to help settle the issue of House Speaker which has been dragging for a considerable period of time.

Velasco goes first since he already has an overwhelming number of members of Congress supporting him, Pimentel said.

Cabinet meddling

President Rodrigo Duterte was “pressured” by eight members of the Cabinet to implement the so-called term sharing in the House leadership, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza disclosed.

“We heard they are pressuring the President to insist on term-sharing and in fact they want Cayetano to take the first portion,” Atienza told the Daily Tribune in a phone interview.

He said from the information he got, two economic managers were “highly mentioned” as those who are pushing for term-sharing.

“Obviously, those who have an interest in budget deliberations were vocal about their choice of speaker. What and who motivates them?” Atienza added.

The partylist lawmaker emphasized that the “Executive or the Cabinet has no business or whatsoever in meddling with internal affairs of Speakership or Congress.”

He said that these secretaries should respect the separation of powers of the three branches of the government saying that it is “immoral” aside from being “illegal” that the members of the Executive department is “lobbying on a purely Congressional matter.”

Cayetano insisted that the President had endorsed term-sharing with Velasco but the Marinduque legislator denied that he had a formal agreement with Cayetano on the matter.

On Tuesday, Paolo announced that he will take back his first decision not to run for Speaker as Cayetano’s insistence triggered his decision to toss his hat into the contest.

Ungab accepts challenge

Ungab accepted the regional political party’s decision on Wednesday. “I abide by the decision of our party HnP. HnP hopes that everyone will aim for and work towards unity and cooperation in order to establish a strong and efficient House,” Ungab said in a statement.