Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. believes that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would still win by "landslide" if the House of Representatives will hold another election for the speakership.
Barzaga made the remark on Sunday amid tensions at the Lower Chamber as the expected change of leadership under the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco nears.
In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Barzaga said that if President Rodrigo Duterte will not announce his choice for the speakership and lawmakers are free to vote, Cayetano would still be elected at the helm of the chamber.
"Ang lagi naman naming sinasabi, ultimately, kung ano ang pasya ng ating Pangulo. Although there is separation of the executive and the House, naturally sumusunod ang nakakarami sa ating Pangulo," he said.
"Kung sakaling sasabihin ng Pangulo or from his body language, wala siyang direktiba sa aming mga kinatawan na magpalit ng speakership, at kung sasabihin niya magkaroon kayo ng botohan, sa tingin ko it will be a landslide win on the part of Alan Peter Cayetano," the lawmaker added.
According to Barzaga, it would be better for the House if the term-sharing agreement will not push through as it would assure the continuation of the good coordination between lawmakers under Cayetano's leadership.
"We have the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. We have been doing this for the last [one year and two months] kaya tuluy-tuloy ang aming koordinasyon at kung ano mang legislation ang kailangan naming ipasa ay magagawa namin especially our national budget," he said.
But if ever the term-sharing agreement pushes through and Velasco is elected, Barzaga said he should be able to unite those who support him and those who are loyal to Cayetano.
"Kinakailangan niyang ma-unite lahat ng mga kinatawan para sa ganoon maipagpatuloy naman niya kung anu-ano ang mga batas na dapat naming ibalangkas at maaprubahan sa Kongreso," he said.
"That will be test of his leadership sapagkat kung hindi niya makukuha ang kooperasyon ng nakakarami sa ating Kongreso, itwill be very hard on his part to lead the House of Representatives," he added.
But regardless of who the Speaker is, Barzaga said they still would prioritize the interest of the public, not their own.
"Lagi naming sinasabi that we are mature politicians. Kung ano man ang interes na kinakailangan ng ating bansa, 'yun ang uunahin namin," he said.
"We will set aside personal differences together with our other personal plans. 'Yun ang lagi naming barometer, 'yun ang lagi naming layunin sa Kongreso ng ating republika," he added.
At the beginning of the 18th Congress in July last year, no less than Duterte himself brokered a term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco.
In this agreement, Cayetano would hold the speakership for 15 months and Velasco would take over to finish the next 21 months.
Cayetano would reach the 15th month of his term this October.
The issue of the term-sharing agreement surfaced anew last week after Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte traded barbs over infrastructure funds allocated in legislative districts.
Teves questioned the supposedly massive allocations for Taguig City and Camarines Sur, where the legislative districts of Cayetano and Villafuerte are located, and claimed that they amount to P8 billion and P11.8 billion respectively.
Villafuerte, in response, dismissed Teves' claims as a "sinister ploy" hatched by supporters of Velasco to derail the House's plan to finish the budget deliberations by the end of the month. —KG, GMA News