Race is on: Who will be the next House speaker?

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Race is on: Who will be the next House speaker?
Reps. Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte), Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig City), Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) and Loren Legarda (Antique) are among the frontrunners for the speakership race at the House of Representatives.
File | DFA / MJ Roldan | Facebook | The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Several names are being floated for the possible replacement of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she ends her term next month.

Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, president of President Rodrigo Duterte's political party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), earlier said the party would regain the leadership of the House of Representatives.

Frontrunners for the speakership post are from the dominant PDP-Laban — Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte), Aurelio Gonzales (Pampanga) and Lord Allan Jay Velasco (Marinduque).

Administration allied lawmakers are also being eyed for possible speakership — Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig City), Martin Romualdez (Leyte) and presidential son Paolo Duterte (Davao City).

Fredenil Castro (Capiz) of the National Unity Party and outgoing Sen. Loren Legarda have also expressed interest for the post.

Pantaleon Alvarez

Former Speaker Alvarez, who was booted out of the House Speakership in a coup last year, wants a comeback this year.

Alvarez was ousted as House speaker in July last year, with President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address as his last official function as head of the lower chamber.

More than 180 members of the 292-member House of Representatives voted Arroyo to replace Alvarez while 12 abstained.

Earlier this week, Alvarez offered reconciliation with his political enemies, including Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, whom he had feud with.

“Now that elections are over, I offer my hand in peace to heal our deep and divisive wounds,” Alvarez said in a statement

Sara Duterte, however, said Alvarez's offer of reconciliation was "deceiving and lacked sincerity." She warned that the former speaker "remains to be a very dangerous, Machiavellian individual who do not deserve peace."

Fredenil Castro

House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro earlier admitted that he is interested in becoming the House Speaker but has yet to discuss this matter with Arroyo.

Castro, president of the National Unity Party, was reelected as congressman for the second disctrict of Capiz in the 2019 midterm polls. This would be his sixth term in the lower house.

Alan Peter Cayetano

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, now a representative of his hometown Taguig City, gave up his Cabinet post for a seat in the House of Representatives.

As early as October last year, Cayetano had expressed interest in the speakership position.

READ: Alan Peter Cayetano: Duterte wants me to become speaker

"I will seek the leadership position in the House but it's a complex matter... You have to win the trust and confidence of the whole Congress especially na may specific vision tayo," Cayetano earlier told reporters.

Cayetano had also expressed optimism that he would get the House speakership without Sara Duterte's endorsement. Cayetano's Nacionalista Party is allied with the Davao City mayor's Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition.

While Sara confirmed that Cayetano did not seek for her endorsement when they met in Davao last year, the presidential daughter claimed that the Taguig lawmaker warned her against endorsing Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco (Marinduque).

"He (Cayetano), however, came with a veiled threat, that if I endorse Rep. Velasco for Speaker, I would break up the 'group,'" Sara said.

Paolo Duterte

President Duterte's eldest son Paolo won his first term at the House of Representatives after winning the 2019 polls in their home town Davao City.

Paolo served as Davao City vice mayor before seeking a seat at the House. His younger sister Sara, however, said possible bid at the speakership "should best be addressed by our father because he is the president and our patriarch."

The president's eldest son is being linked to the illegal drug trade, which he already denied in a Facebook post in April.

Outgoing Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV claimed that Paolo Duterte has a dragon-like tattoo on his back that would supposedly prove his ties to a drug trafficking triad. Paolo refused to show his back to disprove the allegations during a Senate hearing.

Aurelio Gonzales

Pampanga's Aurelio Gonzales served as PDP-Laban's deputy national campaign manager in the 2019 midterm elections.

According to reports, Gonzales has the backing of newly-elected PDP-Laban senators, including former special assistant to the president Bong Go and former Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.

The Pampanga lawmaker was a member of Lakas-Kampi-CMD before transferring to the ruling PDP-Laban in the 2016 general elections.

Loren Legarda

Outgoing Sen. Legarda of the Nationalist People's Coalition would be taking over the lone district of Antique.

As her name was mentioned as possible House speaker, Legarda expressed confidence that she can do the job.

"If it is the ability to perform a good job as speaker, I believe that I can do it, humbly speaking… in so far as performance at the job at hand," Legarda told ANC's Headstart Tuesday.

Legarda, however, acknowledged that House leadership would depend on the 297 lawmakers elected from various districts in the country.

“It’s not for a person to claim it. You can vie for it, but there is a process and it will be my first time in the bigger house,” she said.

Martin Romualdez

Romualdez will be taking over the House seat that would be vacated by his wife Yedda after winning the 2019 polls. He is the president of Arroyo's Lakas-CMD party.

Rep. Prospero Pichay (Surigao del Sur) earlier claimed that Sara Duterte endorsed the possible speakership of Romualdez, nephew of former first lady Imelda Marcos.

Sara, however, denied Pichay's claims and clarified that she only raised Romualdez's hand during the HNP proclamation rally as he is supportive of the Duterte administration's reform agenda.

Lord Allan Velasco

In his Facebook page, Velasco shared an article stating that Sara Duterte "sealed a pact" to support his speakership in the 18th Congress.

This supposed agreement between Sara and Velasco seeks to avoid last year's House coup over the speakership.

Similar with her statement denying the endorsement of Romualdez, Sara noted that Velasco has been supportive of the president's agenda.

'Duterte will not meddle with House speakership'

Despite Pimentel's earlier declaration that PDP-Laban would regain House leadership, Malacañang earlier stressed that the president will not meddle with the speakership race.

"He (Duterte) does not meddle in the elections in Congress," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said earlier this week.

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