How to resolve the nasty fight for Speaker of the House?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 6, 2019 - 12:00am

In the dirty game of traditional politics, big money can buy big power, and bigger power can produce bigger money. Those who profess not to know this are either lying or are just plain stupid. And those who still believe that Malacañan is neutral are just too naive or were only born yesterday.

Those who cannot understand why too many congressmen are aspiring to be the next speaker, and why too many people are giving so much ado about the fight for speakership, should be reminded that to be the elected leader of the House would mean to become the number four highest official in the whole republic. The speaker is the third in the line of succession for the presidency, following the vice president, and the president of the senate. That explains why aspirants are willing to spend billions and big taipans and tycoons are reportedly ready to give away no less than P10 million each for every representative who supports their respective supported candidates.

The president is torn among three close friends of Malacañan who are seriously contesting the much-coveted post. Should the presidential blessings be given to Taguig congressman Alan Peter Cayetano who was President Duterte's running mate in 2016? He is the most qualified, having been a multi-termed congressman before he became a senator as well. He is a topnotch lawyer, an experienced parliamentarian, and is basically honest and trustworthy. But many intelligent Filipinos do not like the Cayetano Dynasty in Taguig, husband and wife are both members of Congress, the brother is the city mayor, and the sister is a senator.

Should the president support Martin Romualdez, another man who belongs to a dynasty, who is reportedly enjoying the written pledge of a hundred or so members of the House. Martin is, of course supported by the Marcoses because he is the nephew of Imeldific, and the first-degree cousin of Bongbong and Imee. But Martin does not belong to PDP. And if the fight for leadership is decided strictly along party lines, then my former Law student, Alan Lord Velasco has the edge, having gotten the support of the party-list block led by One Pacman's Mikee Romero, the only multi-billionaire member of the House and easily the richest “marginalized” sector representative. But Velasco is too young and does not even want to talk. How can he be speaker? As his Law professor, I knew him to be a nice boy who did not like talking.

Should the president support his old friend Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez who is hoping against hope that Inday Sara will finally forgive him for all his past “indiscretions” including defeating all of Hugpong's candidates in Davao del Norte? I doubt that, because Inday Sara felt very bad about the defeat of Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo in the district where the giant TADECO banana plantations are located. The last polls prove that it is Alvarez and not Hugpong that controls northern Davao. And that was very big blow to the next presidentiable from Davao.

The president also does not consider his son's threats to run for speaker really serious. Polong is a neophyte and still has to prove himself on his own merit. Inday Sara's bet, Isidro Ungab is just a token dark horse, and is never considered a serious contender. Congressman Dong Gonzales from Pampanga has withdrawn reportedly to support whoever the president chooses. Another congressman from Davao is Bayan Muna's Carlos Isagani Zarate, who is the progressive sector's candidate positioning for the post of the minority leader. And so, how should the president resolve this contest, which is getting nastier and nastier each day?

No matter how Malacañan denies, no one believes that the Palace is neutral. Our little birdie in the Palace whispered to me that, to solve the problem, there will be a secret top-level meeting somewhere in Davao this weekend. The top three contenders will be there with Manong Digong, Inday Sara, Polong, secretaries Dominguez and Nograles, and senators Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa. I know the process they will follow. Next week, the three leading aspirants will meet the press and announce who it will be.


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