Zarate insists Speakership fight will be ‘brutal’

By Ellson Quismorio

Pointing to alleged dissatisfaction among administration allies, opposition congressman Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate said Wednesday that he still foresees a “brutal” battle for the House Speakership.

 Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Partylist / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Partylist / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

“As it is, there still seems to be a brewing brutal brawl for the speakership because not all are satisfied with the supposed Magellan solution or the 15-21 term-sharing solution for Reps. Cayetano and Velasco,” said Zarate, the most senior member of the militant Makabayan Bloc this 18th Congress.

“There are even circulating text messages among House members not to support or ignore the said sharing scheme on July 22,” said the Davao-based solon.

Zarate was referring to the term-sharing scheme proposed by Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte to solve the impasse on the Speakership.

Duterte pitched that his former running mate, Nacionalista Party (NP) stalwart Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano call the shots as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress while his party-mate, Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would take over for the final 21 months.

Duterte’s solution included his handpicking of Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez as Majority Leader. Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party, has been described by pundits as the “conscience vote” for the Speakership in a three-way race against Cayetano and Velasco.

Lakas-CMD and NP are both coalition allies of ruling party PDP-Laban.

Earlier, Zarate, who is also vying for the Speakership, described the Chief Executive’s intervention as an attempt to “salvage his already fractious coalition” since the PDP-Laban-led coalition obviously did not have a solid choice for the House’s top post.

Case in point: Romualdez reportedly had the backing of at least 40 out of the 84 PDP-Laban congressmen, despite the party’s endorsement of Velasco for the Speakership.

“The cracks, though, are already very apparent in the once supermajority coalition. And, despite this term sharing for convenience, the different factions and their political and economic backers are expected to still wage a war of dominance in the coming days, especially with 2022 presidential elections already in the political horizon,” Zarate said.

Meanwhile, the Bayan Muna solon also brushed off the jockeying for the Minority Bloc leadership as a mere “smokescreen” to the bruising Speakership fight.

“It is premature to talk of the Minority Leadership now when the fight for the House speakership is actually far from over despite an ex cathedra intervention,” he said.

“Ang pag-float ng Minority Leadership issue ngayon ay mukhang smokescreen lang para pagtakpan ang namumuong banggaan pa ng Kongreso (The floating of the Minority leadership issue appears to be a smokescreen to cover up the brewing battle in Congress). Also, if someone is to be the Minority Leader he should at least be part of the true minority who opposes the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the administration,” said Zarate.

On Wednesday, former Deputy Speaker and Majority Leader, Capiz 2nd district Rep. Fredenil Castro revealed that some of his House colleagues were pushing him to become Minority Leader in the 18th Congress.