MANILA — Term-sharing and other deals related to the Speakership of the 18th Congress curtail the freedom of congressmen to elect their leader based on conscience, a lawmaker said Thursday.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor noted that President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still congressman, shunned political deals and backed then Makati Rep. Joker Arroyo as Speaker.
"In 1998, President Rodrigo Duterte was one of only 5 who voted for Joker Arroyo. There was no concession nor promise of anything for his vote. In fact, Joker lost and those who voted, including then congressman and now President Duterte, stood proud among his peers,” Defensor said.
“I will follow his example and vote according to my conscience and belief of who will be the best for the Filipino nation. No deal nor arrangement can influence my stand,” added Defensor, who was a colleague of Duterte in the 11th Congress.
Defensor issued his statement following the announcement of Sen. Koko Pimentel that the PDP-Laban Party will opt for a term-sharing deal if its stalwart, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, would be the first to hold the top House position.
But Defensor said majority of congressmen, even those from PDP-Laban, prefer to be given the freedom to elect their own House leaders rather than be compelled to accept term-sharing arrangements and other political deals packaged by their party leaders.
“There are two main criteria in selecting who will be the next speaker. First is the competence to lead, the knowledge and experience to steer Congress given the diverse and complicated issues that will confront the House,” the party-list solon said.
“The second is the ability to lead, to build consensus, having the individual trust and respect of each member based on their individual sensitivities and biases,” he added.