Dark horse in speaker race

A HOUSE leader on Sunday hinted at the rise of a dark horse in the increasingly unpredictable speakership election this Monday morning that may hurt the speakership bid of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the breakfast meeting called by Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte with their colleagues and the repetitive statements of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte that his proposed term-sharing agreement in the speakership race was a mere suggestion has been preventing Cayetano from cementing his grip on the hotly contested post.

“I would say na front-running pa rin si Cayetano. Pero tomorrow morning, baka may dark horse,” Salceda yesterday told a radio interview over dzBB.

“May aabangan tayo bukas (Monday), definitely, kung Pulong can pull it off,” said Salceda who did not name the possible dark horse.

Salceda also said lawmakers are now taking into consideration the statement of President Duterte being reiterated by Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo that the Chief Executive would not mind if lawmakers would not support his preferred Speaker.

“Nasabi na rin ni Presidente na hindi naman siya magagalit kung iba ang boto sa sinabi niya. Kung hindi na lang sana nasabi ‘yun sana tapos na ang boxing. Akala ko knockout na ng Round 1, 12-round bout pala ito,” said Salceda.

President Duterte picked Cayetano to be the next Speaker in the first 15th months while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will take over as Speaker for the remaining 21 months of the term-sharing agreement.

The Chief Executive also named Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, formerly one of the frontrunners in the speakership race with the solid support of 167 lawmakers, as the House Majority Leader.

Before President Duterte announced the term-sharing agreement, the Duterte Coalition endorsed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as Speaker of the 18th Congress.

At least 200 lawmakers and counting have confirmed their attendance in the breakfast invitation of Pulong Duterte, the eldest son of President Duterte.

Earlier, Cayetano invited lawmakers to a breakfast meeting at 8:30 in the morning this Monday at the Nograles Hall, South Wing Annex of the House of Representatives.

“Hindi ka magpapatawag ng breakfast if you’re just getting to know them,” said Salceda.

“Hindi na siguro kailangan pang pagdebatehan, may impluwensya siya [Paolo]. So kung may impluwensya siya, may responsibilidad siya. So I think he is accepting that he has a responsibility in the years of his influence as a member of the House and as a son of the President,” Salceda pointed out.

“Definitely, kahit sino man ang Speaker na uupo, he needs a direct line to the President. Kumbaga ‘yung clear line would be the son,” said Salceda. “Kung gusto mong madala ang concern ng distrito mo to the attention of the national government especially to the President, given that may over-concentration of powers and resources sa ating Pangulo, definitely no congressman can afford to disregard that direct line to the President.”