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FOR HOUSE SPEAKERSHIP: Tom picks Belmonte over GMA

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who won the congressional seat in the south district, said he is supporting Quezon City Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte over President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the race for speaker of the House of the Representatives.

Osmeña said although Arroyo is a close friend, he is not supporting her bid for the speakership.

Arroyo and Belmonte won the congressional seats in Pampanga and Quezon City, respectively, during the May 10 elections.

“My preference for speaker of the House of Representatives is Belmonte for now,” Osmeña said.

In spite of this, Osmeña said he admired the president because of her support to the city, especially in the issuance of the land titles for the 295-hectare South Road Properties.

Malacañang already admitted that Arroyo may run for House speaker as soon as the 15th Congress convenes.

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Belmonte is reportedly interested in the speakership. In fact, he already started the groundwork for his intention to hold the top position in the Lower House by talking to some of his partymates.

Osmeña and Belmonte run under the Liberal Party, whose standard bearer, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is leading in the presidential race.

Osmeña, the former chairman of the City Mayor’s League of the Philippines, said he is willing to help Belmonte by convincing other congressmen to vote for him.

Belmonte has admitted that the battle for the House speakership will be tough but “not insurmountable.”

Aside from Belmonte, another LP member who is also interested in the position is reelected Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III of the fourth district of Quezon City.

Tañada, however, admitted that the party may not have enough number to secure the speakership because it will have only about 50 members in the House.

Some political pundits said Arroyo is fit for the job because she used to be a legislator, having served six years as senator before becoming vice president in 1998.

While this is not a novel notion for many, it’s the first time Malacañang itself is actually acknowledging the possibility Arroyo may become the country’s first female House speaker once she steps down from the presidency.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said on Wednesday the president has a lot to share the next administration in her new role in government.

“Of course, alam mo, ang talent ni presidente is always there. Yung economic background or as president for almost 10 years, malaking mabibigay na tulong sa next administration as congressman or maybe as speaker,” Mendoza said.

Once she steps down from the presidency, Mrs. Arroyo will become the congressional representative of the 2nd district of Pampanga.

Previously, her allies in Congress had said that Mrs. Arroyo, once elected congresswoman, will pursue an economic legislative agenda that could include pushing for amendments to the economic provisions of the constitution.

But critics have said this may just be her way to amend the political provisions of the constitution, and push for a shift to a parliamentary form of government.

If Charter change succeeds, it could allow Mrs. Arroyo to once again be chief executive as Prime Minister, and save herself from prosecution for scandals that hounded her 9-year stay in Malacañang. — With   (FREEMAN NEWS)


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