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Cayetano must still strike deal with us, says PDP-Laban head

Cayetano must still strike deal with us, says PDP-Laban head

He can’t rest easy yet.

Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano may have the President’s backing in the race for Speaker, but he still has a lot of work to do before he can be sure that his colleagues will elect him to the post on July 22, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said on Thursday.

One of the things Cayetano has to do is to strike a deal with the 85-strong Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which wants certain committee chairmanships and positions on the Commission on Appointments and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, said Pimentel, the party’s president.

Cayetano and the PDP-Laban members were set to meet on Thursday evening to discuss the matter.

‘Advantage, not assurance’

Duterte is the chair of the PDP-Laban, which had endorsed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for the top job in the House. But the President chose Cayetano to serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, to be followed by Velasco who would serve the remaining 21 months of the term.

“[Cayetano] still has to convince also his electors,” Pimentel said at a news forum in the Senate.

“So that he would not be surprised on July 22, he has to make sure he has convinced everyone, or a majority or plurality, to vote for him as House Speaker, negotiate with all of the factions and with all of the political parties, put in writing everything so that things are clear,” he added.

Cayetano has the upper hand now because he has President Duterte’s backing, Pimentel said.

That’s “an advantage but not an assurance,” he said.

PDP-Laban members were inclined to follow the term-sharing scheme that Duterte announced since they were the ones who had sought his guidance, Pimentel said.

But there would still be negotiations so that the PDP-Laban could pursue its agenda in the House, he said. It wants proportional representation and positions for its senior members in the House, he said.

Since PDP-Laban is advocating for federalism, it also wants the committee handling constitutional revisions, Pimentel said.

“The PDP-Laban’s chairman has spoken, and we were the ones who urged him to speak. We should follow him, unless the ones we are negotiating with would really abuse us, ignore us, set us aside. That’s a different matter. Because he can also not sit as House Speaker without the support of the 85 PDP-Laban,” he said.

The party would do its best to get the commitment of all of its 85 House members for Cayetano, he added.

No reflection on President

Malacañang said President Duterte wouldn’t mind if the congressmen wanted to vote someone else as Speaker.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the failure of Cayetano or Velasco to be elected Speaker would not reflect on Mr. Duterte’s political clout.

“In the ultimate analysis, the vote on the Speaker would lie on members of [the House],” Panelo said.

“The only reason why the President gave that suggestion is because those who were vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestin to settle the row between and among them,” he added.

But the row is far from over, according to Mr. Duterte’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, who had also offered to run for Speaker but withdrew after his father objected.

Representative Duterte belongs to the Duterte Coalition, which has nominated Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab for Speaker.

On Thursday, Duterte scoffed at discussions about committee chairmanships and said he was more interested in who would be elected Speaker.

Elect Speaker first

“A Speaker has not yet been elected, why are we already talking about committees?” he said.

On Wednesday, Cayetano met with about 40 incoming House members, including lawmakers allied with Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) president, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and laid out his plans.

Cayetano suggested that the committee chairmanships remain the same after the turnover of the speakership.

“If it’s possible, the only posts that will be replaced after 15 months are the Speaker and the chairman of the committee on accounts,” he said.

Duterte reminded Cayetano on Thursday that he had yet to be elected Speaker and that he was not sure to be elected despite the President’s backing.

The Davao lawmaker cited talk about one of the candidates for Speaker staging a coup on July 22 to defeat the President’s endorsement of Cayetano.

“It looks like the battle is not yet over for the three and their backers,” Duterte said.

He did not identify the candidate and the backers. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO