By Ellson Quismorio
A Senior Deputy Minority Leader said there is going to be a definite cutoff date as to until when House members can afford to wait for the first family’s choice who should be the next Speaker – and it’s going to have to come sooner than later.
According to COOP-NATCCO Party-List Rep. Anthony Bravo, the congressmen’s waiting game must end on June 15 at the latest, especially if they want to get their task on the 2020 national budget rolling.
“The way I look at it, June 15 will be the last day. They (congressmen) will settle it,” said the outgoing Party-List lawmaker.
“Because they will be talking now about the budget. The Speaker should be [on board],” Bravo pointed out.
The Speaker of the House for the upcoming 18th Congress won’t be elected until the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), which will fall on the third week of July.
While it’s customary for the Speaker-hopefuls to consolidate support among their colleagues this early, House members are still collectively holding their breath for an explicit declaration from either President Duterte or his influential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on who should be the next Speaker.
This, despite the elder Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that he will keep his “hands off” the Speakership race, and the Davao mayor’s reported plea to “stop calling her” about the topic.
In fact, the 54-strong Party-List Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) bared Tuesday that they would go by the Chief Executive choice for Speaker when it’s time to vote. If President Duterte remains quiet, then they will try to consult Mayor Duterte, the group said.
But Bravo reckoned that come the middle of the month, the solons would have no choice but to hack it out on their own. And it’s not going to be all that bad, he said.
“It will show to the public that the House of Representatives is indeed independent.”
Bravo acknowledged that the lack of a Palace choice for Speaker has made the high-stakes race chaotic, but at the same time insisted that it wasn’t that big of a deal. “Sa una naman talaga magulo, kahit noon magulo di ba? (It’s really chaotic at first, but even back in the 17th Congress it was chaotic, right?)”
President Duterte is expected to hand over the proposed 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP)–the basis of the national budget–to lawmakers on SONA day. Given the extensive delay in the passage of the 2019 budget, solons–particularly House members–would understandably want a head start on the budget deliberations.
There are at least half a dozen congressmen vying for the top post in the House. All of them are allies of the Duterte administration.