By Ben Rosario
Former speaker and re-elected Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has started consolidating allies to launch a bid to reclaim the top House of Representatives post that he lost during a coup reportedly backed by a presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
This was gathered as Nacionalista Party gained in the number of winning congressional bets that will back former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
As of latest count, there are at least 41 NP congressional candidates in the winning bracket as of 5 pm yesterday.
Alvarez, who led Davao del Norte bets in blanking staunch rival, Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo and his candidates last May 13, will be challenged by Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco, as PDP-Laban bet for speaker.
The former House leader has also taken serious efforts in seeking reconciliation with Mayor Duterte, chairperson of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago that supported nine of the 12 winning senatorial candidates.
PDP-Laban boasts of at least 85 congressmen in its fold for the 18th Congress, the biggest representation in the Lower House.
On the other hand, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president, is presumed to get strong support from former president and outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for his speakership bid.
Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, president of the National Unity Party, and re-elected San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of PDP-Laban have also been mentioned as possible candidates for speaker.
“The winner in the speakership race will be the candidate who can bet other bets in gathering a formidable force of partylist congressmen and political parties who are not fielding a candidate,” a source from the Alvarez camp said.
Alvarez enjoys an edge over his opponents in this aspect since he will only repeat what he achieved during the speakership race in 2016.
However, the “Sara Duterte” factor which allegedly triggered Alvarez’s ouster as House leader remains a key influence that candidates will have to consider in seeking the speakership.
Political observers noted that Velasco enjoys an advantage in getting Sara’s support.
Meanwhile, Alvarez offered his hand of reconciliation to political rivals as he thanked President Rodrigo Duterte and daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for their efforts in guaranteeing peaceful orderly and fair election in Davao del Norte
“Now that elections are over, I offer my hand in peace to heal our deep and divisive wounds. Borrowing the words of a statesman from an era long past,” Alvarez said in a statement issued yesterday.
He expressed his gratitude to Davao del Norte folk for electing PDP Laban candidates.
“Definitely, their votes shall bring forth change to our beloved province. As your elected leaders, we shall never cease working hard in providing the best and genuine service,” Alvarez said.
“‘A house divided against itself cannot stand… though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. We are not enemies, but friends,” said Alvarez.
“Let us rally together for the cause of unity and progress in our Davao Region and our beloved country. Let us consolidate our efforts in making true change and uplift the lives of our countrymen,” he stressed.