MANILA - Davao del Norte Rep.-elect Pantaleon Alvarez questioned on Wednesday his party PDP-Laban's decision to announce its endorsement of Marinduque Rep.-elect Lord Allan Velasco as House Speaker even though President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet chosen a candidate.
The former Speaker, who is among the contenders for the top House post along with Velasco, Pampanga Rep.-elect Aurelio Gonzales, Taguig Rep.-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, and Leyte Rep.-elect Martin Romualdez said the President has not picked any candidate, which led him to wonder why Sen. Manny Pacquiao announced Velasco as the one chosen by the administration party.
Alvarez revealed he was not informed of the PDP-Laban's choice of Velasco as the party's official candidate, despite being the secretary-general of PDP-Laban.
He added that Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi, PDP-Laban's vice-chairman, was also not informed about the decision.
The former Speaker's statement came after Pacquiao told reporters earlier in the day that majority of PDP-Laban congressmen had signed a manifesto of support for Velasco's bid for the Speakership.
"Nagulat ako sa anunsyo ni Sen. Pacquiao na yung pambato ng PDP-Laban ay si Cong. Velasco na. Malaman-laman ko, wala naman pa lang tawag yung ating Pangulo na sinasabing ito na kandidato ko. Parang nag-lolokohan lang tayo dito," Alvarez told radio DZMM.
Alvarez said Pacquiao was authorized by PDP-Laban officials, during a dinner with party-list members, to announce only Duterte's choice.
"Ang napag-usapan, bago umalis sa dinner si Sen. Manny, ay the leadership of PDP-Laban authorized him to announce kung ano man yun sasabihin ng ating Pangulo. Ako naman, naniniwala sa napagkasunduan," he said.
"Hindi naman 'yun (announcement) napag-usapan. Kasi kung yun talaga yun, ako naman mismo ang mangunguna doon sa pagsusuporta kung sino man yung ieendorso ng ating Pangulo," he added.
Alvarez, who was ousted as House Speaker in 2018 in a coup masterminded by President Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, said the Speakership is still up for grabs until July 22, when lawmakers formally elect a new Speaker during the opening of the 18th Congress, unless the President endorses a candidate before the opening.
"Mag-aantay ako hanggang sa July 22. Kung wala talaga[ng ieendorso ang Pangulo], doon na ako pipili. Boboto na lang ako nung merong mga numero," he said.