By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Majority of House members are still in a bind, as uncertainties and tension continue to surround the battle for Speakership.
Will they exercise a conscience vote or just give their nod to President Duterte’s recommendation to install Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker of the 18th Congress?
This question cropped up, as the 301-man House of Representatives poises itself to cast their vote to pick their Speaker Monday at the start of the 18th Congress.
“The speakership fight is still full of confusion. It ain’t over till it’s over! Expect a tumultuous session,” a veteran lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
All the House members are expected to attend the opening of the first regular session of the 18th Congress at 10 a.m. and are set to elect their leader.
The veteran congressman said his colleagues were gripped with confusion, following the seeming “battle of the breakfast meetings” between Cayetano and presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte.
More than 200 House members confirmed attendance to the breakfast meeting, initiated by President Duterte’s eldest son.
Rep. Duterte is set to host a breakfast meeting at 8 a.m. today at the South Lounge of the main building of the Batasan Complex. Cayetano also had invited his colleagues to a breakfast gathering at 8:30 a.m. at the Nograles Hall, South Wing Annex of the House of Representatives.
“It’s also confusing to hear the repetitive statements of President Duterte and [Presidential Spokesman Salvador] Panelo that the term-sharing agreement was a mere recommendation and congressmen may not follow it,” the veteran lawmaker said.
He disclosed that Senator Bong Go has been supposedly campaigning for Cayetano’s Speakership bid by personally calling House members. Cayetano has the support of some Cabinet secretaries, he claimed.
Sources earlier said the camp of Cayetano decided to move the breakfast meeting to 8 a.m. after learning that Rep. Duterte organized a gathering at 8 a.m.
Another House member said they have been informed that Rep. Duterte might challenge President Duterte’s choice for Speaker.
“We got words that Cong. Pulong may challenge the Speaker’s choice of his father. Hindi lang malinaw kung siya ang kandidato or may i-endorse siya. Kung may galawan, magiging malinaw na iyan sa almusal na ipinatawag niya,” he said.
“It’s like a roller-coaster ride, it involves many emotional highs and lows. Kapit lang, ibang klaseng eksena ito,” said the congressman, who was among those who signed a new manifesto of support “for the vision and objective of the Duterte Coalition for a prosperous, united, free and sovereign Philippines”.
Reliable sources said several meetings were held by various political groups and influential blocs in preparation for the election of Speaker. Cayetano reportedly initiated a meeting with political leaders late Sunday afternoon.
Another veteran House member said they were awaiting Rep. Duterte’s green light on the Speakership issue.
“Nakakatawa nga kasi puro kami meetings, pero after meetings, lalo kaming nalilito kasi hindi naman nagdedeklara ng suporta si Cong. Pulong sa kaninong kandidato. Marami ang naghihintay ng senyas niya,” the lawmaker said.
“I understand from what I heard that Pulong will talk about the offer (Deputy Speaker for Political Affairs) only after Cayetano’s election as Speaker,” the veteran lawmaker disclosed.
In a Facebook post , Cayetano disclosed Friday that the Davao first district representative gave in to be the Deputy Speaker for Political Affairs.
Rep. Duterte earlier warned Cayetano could face a “coup” and the Speakership race is not yet over.
President Duterte endorsed Cayetano to be the House Speaker for the first 15 months. While, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of the ruling PDP-Laban party would assume the fourth highest post in the land for the last 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez was named as the House Majority Leader. They all gave in to President’s decision.
Before the President’s endorsement, the Duterte siblings endorsed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as their bet for Speaker.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier declared their intention to join the speakership race to eventually become the House Minority Leader.
Considering that there are 301 lawmakers, least 152 votes will be required to elect the new leader of the Lower Chamber.
As of this writing, the Office of House Secretary-General only received 300 certificates of proclamation from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), while Southern Leyte Rep. Roger “Going” Mercado was tasked to serve as caretaker under a law dividing his province into two districts until its scheduled election in October.