By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is taking its time in choosing its bet for the House speakership in the 18th Congress.
Senator Koko Pimentel (ALBERT GARCIA / MANILA BULLETIN)
PDP-Laban president and reelected Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel said the ruling political party has yet to decide who it will support for the highest post in the House of Representatives.
"No decision yet because we have time," Pimentel told The Manila Bulletin in a text message Thursday.
The party held a meeting Wednesday night in preparation for the opening of the next Congress, where its possible nominees -- Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales; and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco -- presented their respective plans and programs.
But Pimentel said they will wait for President Duterte's recommendation who among the three will be the PDP-Laban's standard bearer for the House speakership. Duterte is the party's chairman.
"Actually it will be the choice of the President who shall determine who shall be the Speaker of the House," the senator said in an interview at the sidelines of the meeting.
On Thursday, Pimentel said he will call Duterte for his "guidance and inputs".
The administration party is seeking to regain the House leadership after Alvarez was ousted in a surprise session before Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year. Former president and outgoing Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replaced him as Speaker.
Pimentel is confident that a PDP-Laban member will again hold the top House post as he expects a "solid vote" from their 80 partymates who will assume congressional seats in the next Congress.
The party president, however, said it will be up to their chairman if he will heed the views of his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, in choosing the party's official nominee.
Alvarez was known to be at odds with Duterte-Carpio, whom the President said "manuevered" the former's ouster as House Speaker.
On Tuesday, the presidential daughter admitted having a "personal bet" for the House speakership. While she did not name the person, there had been speculations that she will be supporting Velasco.
"Hintayin na lang natin kung may bearing o wala (Let's just wait if it has bearing to the President or none)," Pimentel said.