MANILA – Sen. Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday he would tell President Rodrigo Duterte to only endorse as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives someone who belongs to their political party PDP-Laban, noting that it would be "dangerous" if a party outsider takes the helm of the chamber.
Pacquiao acknowledged there is a possibility that Duterte, chairman of the ruling party, would pick someone outside PDP-Laban as his bet for the next Speaker.
If this happens, Pacquiao said “tsaka ako mag-suggest na kailangan PDP-Laban (I will then suggest to him that the next Speaker should be from PDP-Laban).” The ruling bloc has 94 members in the House, the largest of any party.
"Delikado eh (It would be dangerous)," he quipped as he highlighted the need to install a partymate as Speaker.
Pacquiao explained there is a need to install a PDP-Laban member at the House helm to ensure that Duterte’s remaining years in office will be smooth-sailing.
“Baka mamaya sa last two years, or last one and half years before election baka susuwagin na ang pangulo natin,” he told reporters at a chance interview.
(In the last two or one and a half years before the elections, some might go against him.)
His reference was unclear, but by procedure, an impeachment complaint against a sitting President emanates from the House.
The senator's criteria casts out contenders from outside the party: his former Senate colleague, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez of Lakas-CMD.
Both are supportive of the President.
Pacquiao on Tuesday evening hosted the party’s three speakership aspirants - Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
The boxing champion-turned-lawmaker said he would announce who will be the party’s bet for speakership as soon as possible to “avoid confusion” among the party’s members at the lower chamber.
Pacquiao said the party’s president, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, will punish members who will not toe the party line on the speakership race.
“Iyun ang sinabi niya kasi as a member of PDP-Laban kailangan respetuhin din natin ang desisyon ng presidente ng partido,” he said.
(He said as members of PDP-Laban, they should respect the decision of the party president.)
“Kahihiyan ng partido ‘yan kung ‘di nagkakaisa ang isang partido.”
(It wouldn't look good for the party if its members are not united.)
Duterte’s former top aide, senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, earlier said the President would distance himself from the speakership race as he belongs to a separate government branch.
Pacquiao, however, said Duterte’s opinion on the issue would still matter.
“Hindi naman talaga nakikialam si presidente pero sa pagbigay ng honor at respeto sa pangulo, kailangan din makuha ang basbas niya,” he said.
(The President does not really meddle, but as chief executive, we need his blessing.)
Alvarez held the top House post until July 2018, when he was ousted and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed as speaker. His tiff with Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is believed to have triggered the leadership change.
Duterte-Carpio once referred to Velasco as the "next speaker" in one campaign stop for the May 13 vote. The President's daughter also referred to Romualdez as the next speaker shortly after.
Velasco, nonetheless, is still widely regarded to be Duterte-Carpio’s pick for the next Speaker as he accompanied her on the campaign trail of her senatorial slate Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Gonzales, meanwhile, has touted as an advantage his stint as PDP-Laban’s deputy campaign manager in the recent elections.