MANILA - Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Thursday said it was "theoretically possible" for members of the House of Representatives to go against the will of President Rodrigo Duterte to install Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker but added that the ruling party for now is abiding with the endorsement.
Duterte, chairman of the ruling PDP-Laban, earlier endorsed Cayetano, his former foreign affairs chief and defeated May 2016 running mate, as the next Speaker.
Cayetano, who belongs to the Nacionalista Party, would be succeeded by PDP-Laban’s Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque in a term-sharing deal brokered by the President.
Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, said that while the ruling party wanted for Velasco to serve ahead of Cayetano, the party was respecting the President’s decision.
“Gusto namin mauna ang partymate namin pero (We wanted our partymate to be the first to serve but) so be it. We wanted the President to issue a guidance, and he has issued a guidance, so tatanggapin namin ang guidance na ito (we will accept this guidance),” Pimentel said in a Senate forum.
But Pimentel admitted that while Duterte has endorsed Cayetano, the latter’s fate would still depend on the members of the House who will vote on their leader on July 22, the opening of the 18th Congress.
This, as he was asked to comment on Duterte’s son Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte’s hint that House members might launch a coup against Cayetano and vote for their preferred bet.
“Theoretically everything is possible, kasi ang collegial body ganon naman talaga (because that's how a collegial body works),” he said of the supposed coup.
He suggested to Cayetano, his former Senate colleague, not to depend too much on Duterte’s endorsement and court House members to secure his seat as Speaker.
“Sa July 22 para hindi siya magulat, he has to make sure convinced na ang (On July 22, so he won't be surprised, he has to make sure that he has convinced the) plurality to vote for him as House Speaker. Negotiate with all the factions, political parties, and put in writing everything para klaro (so it's clear),” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said PDP-Laban officials would meet with Cayetano’s group on Thursday evening to negotiate the House setup in the upcoming Congress.
He said the party would push for certain demands, particularly involving committee chairmanships and memberships, so the party could still push for its agenda in the remaining years of the Duterte administration.
“We have to pay attention to the smallest details so it will be a smooth transition to the next House Speaker. If no one pays attention to the details, magkakagulo talaga (there will be chaos),” he said.
Pimentel warned Cayetano’s group that it should not belittle PDP-Laban, which has 85 members in the House, in the negotiations.
"In the true spirit of a negotiation dapat give and take, ang laki na nga ng take niya eh (it should be give and take, he has taken a big one) - speakership," he said.
“Unless iyung kausap namin nung nag-nenegotiate kami masyado kaming inaabuso, ini-ignore o isinasantabi, ibang usapan na ‘yun. He cannot sit as Speaker kung walang support ng 85 ng PDP-Laban.”
(Unless the one we talked to during our negotiations abused, ignored or set us aside, that's a different matter. He cannot sit as Speaker without the support of the 85 PDP-Laban members.)
Pimentel believes Cayetano’s strong support for Duterte, who has spoken repeatedly of honoring “debt of gratitude,” pushed the chief executive to endorse him as Speaker.