Letters from Davao: Congress leadership struggle

By: Jun Ledesma

WITH the start of congressional sessions in the offing, politicos are into the traditional leadership tug of war. Until topnotcher re-elected Sen. Cynthia Villar gave a smirk at Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the quest for the Senate Presidency seems to be leading to the path of incumbent Tito Sotto who is on his last term. Manny should be careful about the inchoate hubris that often comes with some victors. On the other hand, all the President’s allies should subordinate their individual aspirations in their search for the Senate leadership if their intention is to support the Duterte’s remaining 3-year rule which will be highlighted by “Build, Build, Build” agenda.

While the old guards in the Senate are saying that the 12 newcomers should first learn the nuances in upper House and should not be demanding of their choice for committee chairmanship, I think that given the last three years of Duterte’s administration, committees that are vital to the project implementation of the government must be chaired by the President’s allies they be old or newbies.

With only 24 senators to pick a President from, the struggle for supremacy in the Upper Chamber is not as complicated as what is obtaining in the Lower House with a total of 297 members, 238 among them represents congressional districts and 59 from the party lists. Aspiring to be the next Speaker of the House to replace retiring Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are Lord Velasco of Marinduque, Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig, and Davao del Norte Rep. Bebot Alvarez.

Velasco, son of a former Supreme Court Justice, early on was perceived to be close to the Duterte family, while Romualdez with a kinship with the Marcos clan is no pushover. Cayetano who was Duterte’s running mate claims to have an endorsement from the President but the behavior of sister Pia in a tackless comment on Imee Marcos education had driven a wedge between him and some supporters. Alvarez who was kicked out by 184 lawmakers during his incumbency is gunning for a comeback but he is still being hounded by Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Inday Sara who warns congressmen of Bebot being Machiavellian.

Still there are other potential candidates for Speakership. Political analyst Malou Tiquia for example hinted that San Juan Congressman Ronaldo Zamora, a bar topnotcher who dedicated the best part of his life to public service has all the qualifications that fit the Speakership. Indeed Zamora has an impressive political career. He was member of the Batasan Pambansa, served as Executive Secretary, a Minority Leader and now re-elected on his third and final term as congressman. A Marcos technocrat he has, like Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a total grasp of economic and fiscal issues. Some critics out to discredit Zamora says that he is an oligarch but I don’t know which mold to place him.

The House and the Senate leaderships matter and we hope that in their struggle our politicians must be wise in choosing who will help steer our country into the coast of progress.

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