House elects new speaker

Allan Peter Cayetano

THE election of Speaker of the House of Representatives went smoothly with the rumored coup d’etat not materializing.

President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened that he would skip his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) if the House of Representatives would not get its act together on the election of its Speaker, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said yesterday. Go said Duterte issued this warning on Sunday evening as he was practicing for his fourth SONA.

“Sabi ni Pangulong Duterte ayaw niyang maulit ang nakaraang taon na natagalan ang SONA. It was delayed for an hour,” Go told reporters.

Last year’s SONA was delayed as House members staged a coup to remove then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and install Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Speaker.

“Kung mauulit at magkagulo at walang Speaker… at walang maayos na Kongreso, hindi na raw siya pupunta. Magpapahinga na lang daw siya sa bahay,” Go said.
Around 266 members of the House of Representatives voted for Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker of the 18th Congress.

His contender, comebacking Manila Rep. Benny Abante got 28 votes and automatiallyc became the Minority Leader.

Two solons – Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and Magdalo Rep. Manuel Cabochan abstained while Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman registered a no vote.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez was appointed as Majority Leader.

Among those who voted for Cayetano were speakership candidates Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Romualdez and Davao del Norte Pantaleon Alvarez; presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte; former Senator now Antique Rep. Loren Legarda and President of the Party-list Coalition Foundtion Inc. and 1PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero.

Cayetano took his oath before the youngest member of the House, Iloilo Rep. Braden John Biron.

In his speech, Speaker Cayetano appealed to the members of the new Congress to do what is right in order to change the image of the House of Representatives.

“People love their congressmen, but they love to hate  Congress. This is something I ask all of you in unison. Let us change that because this is the House of the people. We should respect and love our congressmen but we should also feel that the House of Representatives is the House of the People,” the new Speaker said.
“We will do what is right, so that we will have a Congress that is relevant, responsive and reliable,” Cayetano added.

He appealed for understanding, unity and cooperation so that the next 15 months will be smooth and the House will serve the people well.

The Speaker said he wanted the House of Representatives to be the partner of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration in pushing for the priority legislative agenda.

“We are partners in pursuing a better life for all Filipinos, whether we talk about teachers, about senior citizens, about young people, OFWs, professionals, our teachers, our government  workers, workers in the private sector, rich or poor, young or old or out-of-school youth, we are all connected and united,” he said.
For his part, Romualdez promised to serve well Congress and the people.

“To my colleagues in the 18th Congress, I vow to serve you all and the Republic of the Philippines,” Romualdez said.   With EMontano