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Velasco: No frontrunner in Speakership race yet

MAASIN, Southern Leyte - There is no frontrunner in the race of the Speakership just yet, administration ally and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco said after a campaign stop of administration coalition Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) here.

Velasco made the comment less than a day after HNP’s campaign manager, Davao city Mayor Sara Duterte, introduced former Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez as the next Speaker of the House during the group’s campaign stop in Tacloban city, Leyte.

Velasco, who has been serving as program emcee in HNP campaign sorties, cited the instance wherein Mayor Sara and her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, also introduced her as the next Speaker of the House during his birthday in Marinduque last November.

“I have an election to win, I need to finish the local campaign, win as Congressman before I run for Speaker…but at the end of the day, Mayor Inday [Sara] supports anyone who is supporting the administration,” Velasco, who skipped HNP's Tacloban campaign stop, told reporters.

“Martin Romualdez is supporting the administration. [Former Foreign Affairs Secretary] Alan Cayetano is supporting the administration. I am supporting the administration. She is endorsing anyone who is supporting the administration. As of now, walang may inside track,” Velasco added.

Velasco then argued that Sara decided to campaign for the administration Senate bets under the HNP slate not to push for an individual but build a coalition among political parties who are supportive of President Duterte’s administration.

“That is why there is HNP. We are trying to help the President to put forward his programs. We are campaigning for the Senators [in our slate] because we know they will be able to help the President with what he wants to happen for the country thru relevant laws needed to run his programs,” Velasco, also a member of the ruling party PDP-Laban which the President chairs, said.

Velasco, however, conceded that himself, Romualdez and Cayetano are the ones who already expressed interest in the post at this point.

“Anyone who is also interested in supporting the administration, I’m sure, Mayor Inday will also endorse that person. Who are the others? I would not know. I think it is just the three of us so far,” Velasco said.

Likewise, Velasco also said that it would be better if the next House Speaker will get to finish the three-year term rather than split it between two persons.

“For the Senate, it [term-sharing] is okay because it is a six year term [for each senator]. For the House, it is three-year term. That is so short. We need stability,” Velasco said.

Sara is viewed as having been instrumental in removing Pantaleon Alvarez from the Speakership in July 2018. Alvarez's ouster happened five months after his dispute with her.

The mayor claimed that Alvarez bragged that he could impeach President Rodrigo Duterte in Alvarez’s capacity as Speaker of the House. Alvarez, however, denied this.

Alvarez was replaced by former President and Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo. — BAP, GMA News