Velasco 'humbled and honored'
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte's party PDP-Laban is endorsing Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives, Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao said Wednesday.
Majority of PDP-Laban congressmen earlier signed a manifesto of support for Velasco's bid for Speakership, noted Pacquiao, a party stalwart who was authorized to speak on the issue by PDP-Laban president Sen. Koko Pimentel.
"I am therefore announcing the endorsement and support of PDP Laban for Congressman Lord Allan Velasco as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the full term of the 18th Congress," Pacquiao told reporters.
Pacquiao said Duterte had difficulty endorsing any candidate for Speaker. "Ayaw n'yang makasakit ng loob ng iba (he did not want to hurt anyone)," added the lawmaker.
Among those gunning for the Speakership are Leyte Rep. Elect Martin Romualdez, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao Del Norte, and Duterte's losing running mate in the 2016 elections, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Velasco and Alvarez are both part of Duterte's party, while Romualdez is backed by supporters of Arroyo, who has reached the 3-term limit as congresswoman.
In a statement, Velasco thanked his partymates, saying the "trust and confidence... in my leadership" would "inspire me to work harder in bringing about meaningful changes and much-needed unity to the bigger chamber."
"More importantly, however, their support will inspire us to focus on crucial pieces of legislation that we need to pass in order to sustain the achievements of the Duterte Administration, surpass the economic growth of the country and provide better social services to the people," he said.
If elected to the House helm, Velasco said he would "remain a consultative and listening leader who welcomes his fellow lawmakers regardless of their political colors and affiliations."
Pacquiao said the next Speaker should come from PDP-Laban because it has around 200 members in the House, the highest among the blocs.
PDP-Laban executive vice president and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales said Velasco has the support of the following lawmakers:
- 60 from PDP-Laban
- 39 from Nationalist People's Coalition
- 12 from Liberal Party
- 15 from Nacionalista Party
- 15 from National Unity Party
- 45 party-list representatives
- 25 independent members
PDP-Laban members who will not vote for Velasco will face sanctions, said the party's political head, Ron Munsayac.
With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News