By Ben Rosario
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales’ staunch support for federalism could be his ticket at getting President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement for speaker.
This was gathered as Gonzales’ rivals for the speakership continued to project themselves as the front runners and the preordained choice for the top House leadership.
Requesting anonymity, a senior administration congressman noted that the proposed shift to federalism was the most important proposal left in Duterte’s legislative agenda.
“The president is expected to back who among the speakership hopeful can deliver it before he steps down in 2022,” the source said.
Gonzales is the author of House Resolution 08 that sought to convert Congress into a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending the 1987 Constitution.
Significant among the provisions proposed in the new charter is the shift to federal form of government which Duterte promised to implement before ending his six-year office.
Gonzales is a senior PDP-Laban congressman who has been nominated as the ruling party’s candidate for speaker.
The two other candidates are former speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
" A lot of congressmen would be really happy to see Dong become the Speaker. He is very down-to-earth and a very good friend to all. Barkada ng lahat yan . Walang masamang tinapay sa taong yan," said the source who refused to be named as he noted that congressmen prefer to be discreet about their personal choice as they await President Duterte's position on this matter.
The source said Rep. Gonzales' relationship with the members of the House makes him the perfect choice for the speakership as this would mean that he could easily navigate through the various partisan groups and interests to secure support for important pieces of legislation.
"He will be a uniting speaker," the source said.
Gonzales reportedly does not have any ambition to run for a higher public office, thus can assure everybody that he will not pursue any other political agenda but help Duterte pursue his legislative proposals.