Party-list bloc to vote for Cayetano as speaker | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Vigilia, W. (2019, July 10). Party-list bloc to vote for Cayetano as speaker. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 10, 2019 from https://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/party-list-bloc-vote-cayetano-speaker

Party-list bloc to vote for Cayetano as speaker
By WENDELL VIGILIA – July 10, 2019

DON’T burn bridges.

The 54-man Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) will now vote for Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as speaker of the 18th Congress after eliminating him from its “shortlist” of candidates for the House’s top post.

After the group held a meeting yesterday, 1PACMAN party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, who heads the group, announced they have decided to vote for Cayetano after President Duterte endorsed him for the post last Monday. He will share the position with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

“We are for the President’s choice,” said Romero, who did not even say Cayetano’s name when asked by reporters who the PCFI will vote for speaker.

When asked by reporters if he was referring to Cayetano, who was already counted out by his group, Romero said: “Yes, for now.”

Romero was quick to clarify that their decision will always depend on the choice of the President, who may still change his heart several days before the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22.

The PCFI had earlier decided to limit its choice for speaker between Velasco and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who was chosen by the President to be the next majority leader.

The decision was made after the party-list group separately met with the candidates who were given a chance to discuss their plans if they become speaker.

Romero said their group still expects to corner 20 percent of the chairmanships of all House committees under Cayetano’s leadership.

The PCFI earlier said that since the law requires that the House be composed of 20 percent of party-list lawmakers, they are looking to chair 20 percent of the committees.

In the 17th Congress, nine committee chairmanships were given to party-list lawmakers.

Late last month, some members of Romero’s group slammed him for allegedly betraying them when he signed a manifesto of support for Velasco’s speakership bid without consulting them.

Romero later told the lawmakers that he signed the manifesto, which was drafted by some leaders of the ruling PDP-Laban, in a bid to stop the term-sharing agreement that Cayetano was pushing for.

He told them that term sharing in the speakership post will imperil the legislative agenda of the party-list bloc because of the leadership change.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte, a staunch ally of Cayetano and a fellow member of the Nacionalista Party, called the term-sharing arrangement a “win-win” solution “brokered by President Duterte no less.”

“The Magellan or 15-21 formula of the President is a win-win for Malacañang, the Congress and the Filipino people as it will spell the chamber’s ideal working relationship not only with the Senate but with the Executive Department as well, hence setting the stage for the speedy passage of further reforms that Mr. Duterte wants to push in the Legislature over the remaining half of his term,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte was referring to the 15-21 formula in which Cayetano would serve as speaker for the first 15 months and will be succeeded by Velasco for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

“This leadership arrangement will ensure unity in the chamber among these three main power blocs over the next three years, hence guaranteeing smooth sailing for the priority bills that President Duterte and his economic team want passed soon enough between now and 2022,” he said.

Villafuerte said that under Cayetano’s leadership, “the people will be assured of the timely passage in the bigger chamber of the further reforms that need to be done to sustain – and boost – the country’s growth momentum, decisively attack poverty, create more jobs and improve the lives of Filipinos, including those on society’s fringes.”

“Given his over two-decade track record in the executive and legislative branches of Government, Cayetano as Speaker at the start of the 18th Congress will be able to adeptly steer the House of Representatives towards better rapport and coordination with both the Senate and Malacañang in pursuit of further reforms that President Duterte wants carried out over the final half of his watch,” he said.

Cayetano has said he wants the transition of power to be “least disruptive as possible” when he turns over the speakership to Velasco, who maybe elected senior deputy speaker while he is awaiting his term to be speaker.

He said Villafuerte and Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong will represent him and coordinate with Velasco, who also wants some congressmen appointed to important House positions.

The incoming speaker also said he does not want a revamp of all committee chairmanships when he turns over the post to Velasco so as not to disrupt the workings of the House.

IDEAL ARRANGEMENT?

Malacanang yesterday expressed confidence the “suggestion” of President Duterte for a term-sharing arrangement among the aspiring speakers would not disrupt the processes and work in the House of Representatives nor delay the passage of the priority legislative measures of the administration.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, also said the members of the House would have to decide for themselves if they would follow the suggestion of Duterte or not.

This despite the agreement of the aspirants – Cayetano, Velasco, and Romualdez – to follow whatever guidance and decision is rendered by the President on the matter.

He said the three had agreed to seek the advice of the President to prevent the possible breakup of the coalition and had promised to follow the decision of Duterte.

“Nag-agree na silang tatlo na magkakalaban (The three contenders agreed), they agreed forge unity, so how can there be disruption?)” he said.

SEPARATION OF POWERS?

Sen. Richard Gordon yesterday said the “separation of powers” should be respected after rival candidates for House speaker sought Duterte’s intervention into a different branch of government.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Gordon downplayed Duterte’s role in the breach of the separation of powers principle and instead faulted congressmen for bringing the leadership struggle to him.

Gordon questioned the independence of the congressmen.

“I think the President knows there is separation of powers. Pero, itong mga congressmen, sila ang lumalapit sa Presidente (But these congressmen are the ones who go to the President themselves),” he said.

Gordon added that congressmen should be “conscious” of their actions to avoid suspicions of impropriety, since the purpose of separation between the executive and the legislative branches of government is to provide checks and balances.

“They should not make it too obvious, obviously. Dapat talaga (Really), you should respect the separation of powers,” he added.

Gordon described as “wrong” the “gentleman’s agreement” for Cayetano and Velasco to be speaker for 15 months and 21 months, respectively.

For him, this would bolster the argument against proposals to change the legislature into a unicameral system, instead of the current bicameral system (the Senate composed of nationally elected members and the House of Representatives composed of district and party-list representatives).

“Masusunod na lang in one House, pagka-one House, kung ano ang sasabihin ng Presidente (If we have one House, what the President says will be followed in one House),” Gordon said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the House Speaker is “traditionally” chosen by the President.

“While malinaw ang separation ng three branches, traditionally talaga namang at least ang HOR, halos Presidente o executive ang namimili (While the separation of the three branches is clear, at least in the HOR, it is traditionally the President or executive that chooses),” Lacson told reporters in an interview.

He opted to highlight the “advantage” that Cayetano was a former senator and would help in the passage of legislation in both the House and the Senate. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Vince Nonato

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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