'Unjustified' to sanction PDP-Laban lawmakers who won’t back Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – A member of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) said it would be unfair if the ruling party sanctions party mates who will not vote Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco as Speaker. 

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said he was against the PDP-Laban leadership’s plan to impose sanctions upon its members who will not back Velasco, whom the ruling party officially endorsed on Wednesday, June 26.

Salceda is supporting Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats instead. (READ: Romualdez: I'm a 'strong contender' for Speaker)

“Any threats or sanctions are unjustified and may only incur the unwanted consequence of a reduced representation in the Commission on Appointments, which is similarly critical to the party,” said Salceda.

The economist-turned-lawmaker was asked to respond to a statement of PDP-Laban public information officer Ron Munsayac, who said party president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III wants to punish any legislator who will not be voting Velasco for Speaker. 

“The PDP-Laban leadership led by Senator Koko Pimentel believes it is time to put emphasis and value to party discipline. Members of the PDP-Laban who will defy its choice for speakership will be sanctioned,” said Munsayac.

This comes after several PDP-Laban members like Salceda attended the multi-party caucus led by Romualdez on Wednesday.

While Salceda categorically stated he is for Romualdez, another PDP-Laban legislator present during the meeting –  Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District Representative Wilter Palma II – said he merely attended the caucus to listen to Romualdez’s legislative priorities. 

“Nandito kami para mapakinggan po kung ano man ang adhikain ng isa sa kumakandidato for Speaker… We are here also to express our support and our inclination na sana po ay matulungan po natin ang ating kagalang-galang na kongresista, Congressman Martin Romualdez,” said Palma. 

(We are here to listen to the advocacies of one of our candidates for Speaker… We are here also to express our support and our inclination that we would be able to help our honorable congressman, Congressman Martin Romualdez.) 

Both the Velasco and Romualdez camps are claiming they already have enough numbers to secure the speakership once lawmakers elect their new leader during the opening of the 18th Congress on July 22.

Velasco and Romualdez are facing another Duterte ally for the post, incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, as well as progressive Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, who joined the speakership race only on Wednesday. 

President Rodrigo Duterte was initially expected to name his chosen bet for Speaker. But he said on Tuesday, June 25, that he would just let lawmakers decide for themselves. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

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