MANILA – Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday said the next Speaker of the House, who will assume office in July, must come from President Rodrigo Duterte's PDP-Laban party.
Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, said the party would “unite behind a single nominee” who will be chosen among Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
"We will stand united in ensuring that we will have a Speaker who can truly work not only with his peers in the House but also with the members of the Senate," Pimentel said in a statement.
Duterte "needs the assurance that he can count on Congress in pushing for the much needed reforms that would uplift the lives of our people," Pimentel said.
Pimentel said Sen. Manny Pacquiao would soon announce PDP-Laban’s nominee for Speaker. Pacquiao and the three Speaker aspirants met at the boxing champion’s home in Makati City on Tuesday.
Duterte's party should lead the House because it has 94 representatives in the upcoming 18th Congress "on top the party-list congressmen allied with us," Pimentel said.
Alvarez held the top House post until July 2018, when a coup installed Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 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.
Velasco, meanwhile, is widely regarded to be Carpio’s pick for next Speaker, although the latter has been keeping her distance from the speakership race.
Gonzales touted his stint as PDP-Laban’s deputy campaign manager in the recent elections as his advantage.
Other contenders include Arroyo protégé Martin Romualdez of Leyte and incoming Taguig Rep, Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte's former running mate in the 2016 elections and former foreign secretary.
Romualdez is president of the Lakas-CMD party, while Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party.