“We have agreed to vote as one group for the speakership candidate we will soon decide to support. We want better treatment for party-list representatives from our leaders in the incoming Congress,” 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero, the newly elected coalition president, said yesterday.
Boy Santos
Party-list coalition to vote as bloc for next speaker
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The party-list coalition (PLC) in the House of Representatives – currently with 54 members – will vote as a bloc in the election of the next speaker on July 22, when the incoming 18th Congress convenes.

“We have agreed to vote as one group for the speakership candidate we will soon decide to support. We want better treatment for party-list representatives from our leaders in the incoming Congress,” 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero, the newly elected coalition president, said yesterday.

Many of his party-list colleagues, he added, “feel, rightly or wrongly, that we are treated as second-class citizens to those elected from congressional districts.”

Coalition spokesperson Niña Taduran of ACT-CIS, which garnered the greatest number of votes in the party-list, however, said there was still no consensus on whether the groups would vote as a bloc.

Speaking to “The Chiefs” yesterday on Cignal TV’s One News, Taduran said the coalition meetings so far had been mainly meet-and-greet events, to welcome the neophytes.

Romero revealed that they would most likely support a candidate for speaker who is endorsed by President Duterte.

“If there is no endorsement from the President, then we will choose from among the candidates the one we think will treat party-list lawmakers and the sectors they represent fairly. That’s the one we will vote for as speaker,” he stressed.

The other coalition officers elected with Romero on Thursday include Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon, secretary general; Ron Salo of Kabayan, deputy secretary general; Anna Villaraza-Suarez of Alona, treasurer; and Rico Geron of Agap, Virgilio Lacson of Manila Teachers and Anton Lopez of Marino as vice presidents for third, second and first termers, respectively.

Seventeen other coalition members were voted to its board of trustees.

The Commission on Elections has proclaimed a total of 61 party-list representatives, including those from left-leaning Makabayan who are expected to join an opposition group.

Romero said they would choose the candidate for speaker they would support after hearing all of the aspirants speak about their plans.

“We will invite the others in our future meetings,” he said.

Reps. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, Martin Romualdez of Leyte and Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig addressed coalition members during their Thursday organizational meeting. The three promised to treat their colleagues fairly and to attend to the concerns of the sectors they represent.

Velasco, who acted as emcee in most of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago rallies, said he was “excited to work with our newly elected legislators, not just from party-list groups, so we can expedite the legislative process and ensure that President Duterte’s legislative agenda will be prioritized.”

He hopes that the entry in the next Congress of groups representing diverse sectors would “translate to the speedy passage of measures.”

“After all, lawmakers, regardless of political color, are committed to uplift the lives of the Filipino people through the passage of meaningful legislation that will alleviate poverty, strengthen peace and stability and boost the economy,” Velasco said.

He also said during the thanksgiving dinner for senator-elect Christopher Go at the Arcadia Activity Center in Davao City the other night that “if God gives it (speakership) to me, I will accept the responsibility and will really work hard.”

Romualdez said he was elated by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez’s statement that 126 House members are supporting his speakership bid.

“I heard the news about those who signed the manifesto of support. And I’m happy to get the support of the congressmen. It’s still ongoing and we’re hoping that we continue to get the support,” he told newsmen in a chance interview. 

Romualdez, who sits as president of the Lakas-CMD party that coalesced with the ruling PDP-Laban, also hopes to get Duterte’s blessing so he can help push the legislative agenda of the administration for the next three years until 2022. – With Delon Porcalla, Edith Regalado

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