Dare to place your bets: Who would lawmakers elect as House Speaker?

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IF an election were to push through on October 14 for the highest position in the lower chamber of Congress, both camps of contenders Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco are asserting that they have the numbers for the speakership post.

Deputy Speaker Danilo Fernandez and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte issued separate statements following the claim of Velasco’s camp that the Marinduque lawmaker can win the speakership vote because he has 154 supporters from the party-list bloc, PDP-Laban, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Villafuerte said Cayetano has the support of 190 “real” lawmakers to keep his post. Currently, there are 300 lawmakers in the lower chamber.

“All this lying is bound to catch up with them sometime. Especially since we already have 190 real, actual, living members who have reaffirmed their support for the Speaker, and at least 30 more who have indicated that they will support Speaker Cayetano should it come to a vote, following the President’s statement that he will not intervene in the choice of individual members,” Villafuerte said.

“Let me remind Congressman Velasco about what the President said —the budget is more important to him than who sits as Speaker. When he rejected the President’s request, he already showed that nothing will get in the way of his ambition. Not the President, not his colleagues in this House, and certainly not the people,” the Bicol lawmaker added.

For his part, Fernandez said the number does not add up because Velasco’s allies did not consider those from party-lists and PDP-Laban blocs who have said they support Cayetano’s continued leadership.

Fernandez said there are members of the party-list bloc who support Cayetano but are still being counted as voting for Velasco.

He said even Rep. Francisco Datol, who passed away last month, was included in the total number being quoted.

Fernandez also noted that Deputy Speakers Johnny Pimentel and Aurelio Gonzales, who were previously allied with Velasco, are now supporting Cayetano, having both signed the manifesto of support for the Speaker and voted to reject his resignation.

“They’re having a hard time even in simple arithmetic,” he said.
     Earlier, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza claimed that Velasco has 154 supporters from different political parties in the lower chamber.

Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. also said Velasco has the support of the party-list bloc, the PDP-Laban and the NPC.

Velasco camp has said 65 PDP-Laban lawmakers, 54 membes of the party-list coalition and 35 members of the NPC are supporting the Marinduque lawmaker.

Earlier, AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin said the camp of Velasco will declare the Speaker post vacant if Cayetano will not resign on October 14.

“They will pursue the 15-21 agreement and then declare the position vacant and then we will see how each and every congressman will decide,” she said.

Under the term-sharing agreement for the speakership, Cayetano leads the Lower House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will assume leadership for the last 21 months.

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