NUP lawmakers to back Cayetano for House speaker

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano is the chosen speakership candidate of the 25 lawmakers from the National Unity Party (NUP).

This was announced by party chairman Ronaldo Puno on Monday, June 3, as the speakership race for the 18th Congress continues to heat up in the House of Representatives.

"The NUP leadership is supporting for speaker of the House of Representatives former congressman, former senator, former foreign affairs secretary, and now congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, who is someone all congressmen can count on and look up to," said Puno.

He said NUP is supporting the speakership candidate who has the "competence and proven ability to support and help carry out" President Rodrigo Duterte's policies. 

Cayetano is seen as close to Duterte, having been the latter's running mate in the 2016 elections. A former senator, Cayetano was later appointed to the President's Cabinet as chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

NUP previously supported the House majority bloc when it unseated Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez as speaker and replaced him with former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Alvarez is once again gunning for the same House post. (READ: P1 million for every speakership vote? Velasco, Alvarez deny bribing lawmakers)

"We supported the majority coalition when they worked for the election of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as speaker, believing that we provided our country great service by enlisting a former president who has had the highest government experience in both the executive and legislative branches of government and has had extensive foreign relations experience as well," said Puno.

"With these reasons, the NUP will support the candidate who supports President Duterte and has the broadest government experience, who can eloquently represent the Congress and the country in interactions with foreign counterparts," he added.  

Brian Yamsuan, NUP deputy secretary-general, told Rappler that the party will be voting as a bloc during the election for speaker under the 18th Congress. The 25 legislators are:

Cayetano's top opponents in the speakership race are Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco and incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, who supposedly already has the backing of "more than" 153 lawmakers, according to outgoing House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

Velasco's bid for the speakership, meanwhile, was promoted several times on the campaign trail by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of the President. Sara Duterte later denied endorsing anyone, but likewise admitted she has a personal choice for the post. 

Cayetano, Velasco, and Romualdez all met with Duterte during the President's visit to Japan on May 29.

As President and leader of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, Duterte's blessing is seen as a game changer for anyone vying for the speakership. The President, however, said ahead of the meeting in Japan that he is not backing anyone for House speaker. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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