By Ben Rosario
BACOLOD CITY – Apparently torn between loyalty to her political party and political ally, former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has chosen to keep mum on who her preferred successor would be.
Arroyo, who is here to personally campaign for the congressional bid of sister-in-law Ma. Lourdes Arroyo-Lesaca and the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) senatorial candidates, could be keeping her speakership bet close to her chest after it was earlier reported that the post that will be up for grabs in the next Congress will be pursued by PDP-Laban’s Rep. Lord Alan Jay Velasco of Marinduque and Lakas-CMD chairman and soon-to-be Rep. Martin Romualdez.
The House leader is currently a member of PDP-Laban, but previously headed Lakas-CMD during her presidency.
A third candidate for the speakership is former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running to reclaim his old congressional seat in Taguig. Now belonging to Nacionalista Party, Cayetano was among the architects of an impeachment move against Arroyo when she was still president.
“I am not going to comment on the next Congress because I am not going to be part of it,” said Arroyo during an ambush interview here.
As a former chief executive and outgoing speaker, Arroyo is believed to wield political influence that could determine her successor.
Romualdez has remained a loyal ally of Arroyo even during her over four years detention on alleged trumped up criminal charges filed by the previous administration.
On the other hand, Velasco is expected to be the PDP-Laban bet, and is close to the Duterte administration.
Earlier, both Velasco and Romualdez were introduced by HNP chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as “the next speaker”.
The young Duterte introduced Romualdez as a next speaker during the HNP’s Tacloban City run last Tuesday, but raised the hands of Velasco as her bet for the top House post during the Tagbilaran City sortie the following day.
Duterte explained that together with Cayetano, Romualdez and Velasco can only rely on the backing of the Duterte administration because they are supportitve of her father’s legislative priorities.