By Antonio Colina IV and Ben Rosario
DAVAO CITY – Allies of President Duterte vying for speaker in the House of Representatives failed to arrive at a consensus on who should seek the Lower Chamber’s top post during a meeting with Davao City 2nd District Representative Paolo “Pulong” Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte last July 6.
This was disclosed Monday by former Davao City 2nd District Representative Mylene Garcia-Albano, spokesperson of the Duterte Coalition.
She said nothing was clear whether Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Taguig 1st District Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, all aspirants for speaker, will join the new coalition formed by Mayor Duterte to support the speakership bid of 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab. The Duterte Coalition had earlier endorsed Ungab as its bet for speaker.
While the three aspirants for speakers have not committed to the group, the Duterte Coalition is nonetheless emerging as the new “rainbow coalition” in the House of Representatives. In less than a week, it has gained the support of dozens of congressmen from various political blocs and expecting a minimum of 250 supporters in the chamber when voting for the speaker takes place in less than three weeks.
Caloocan City Rep. Along Malapitan revealed that several members of PDP-Laban, to which he belongs, have already signed up to declare support for the Duterte Coalition.
Reps. Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol Partylist) and Nina Taduran (ACT CIS Partylist) confirmed that a good number of members of the Partylist Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), the second largest political bloc in the Lower House, have expressed support for the Duterte Coalition.
Garbin and Taduran are PCFI spokespersons but spoke in their own individual capacities.
“This is a new Rainbow Coalition that is quickly shaping up in the House of Representatives,” said Garbin, recalling a similar coalition formed by former Speaker Jose De Venecia in order to unite behind the legislative agenda of the administration and make a common stand in the speakership race.
Malapitan said congressmen belonging to at least three political parties have vowed to back the Duterte Coalition.
Garbin said the PCFI will meet today (Tuesday) to determine who among its members have already thrown their support for the DC and decide on a coalition stand on the issue.
“Majority members of the PLC expressed their support for the newly formed Duterte Coalition, I joined them so as to resolve the issue of speakership which might cause delay in the delivery of public service,” said Taduran in a statement.
Albano, meanwhile, said the other candidates are sticking to their plan to run for speaker despite the position of the Duterte Coalition against any term-sharing agreement.
“We are hoping that it (the meeting) was the start of the process to unify (the House of Representatives). We are hopeful indeed that it would be part of the process… arriving at a consensus that can help to select the speaker,” she said.
Albano said she was unsure if they will be meeting again. But several meetings, she said, will be taking place in the coming days with other members of the Lower House in light of the “invitation” of the Duterte Coalition.
Rep. Duterte had already given up his plan to vie for speaker and is now supporting the bid of Rep. Ungab. He gave up his plan to vie for the speakership after his meeting his father, Presient Duterte, Thursday evening. He also vowed to help his father’s administration in a different capacity as member of the Lower House.
The Duterte Coalition was established by seven lawmakers in the House of Representatives who ran under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HTL), collectively known as the “Hugpong Alliance.”
The group’s founding members are presidential son Rep. Duterte, Davao City 2nd District Rep. Vincent Garcia, Ungab, Davao Oriental 1st District Rep. Corazon Malanyaon, Compostela Valley 1st District Rep. Manuel Zamora, Davao Occidental Rep. Lorna Bautista-Bandigan, Marino Party-list Representatives Carlo “Sandro” Gonzales and Jose Antonio Lopez.