Dong Gonzales' edge in speakership race? ‘No political ambition in 2022’

MANILA, Philippines – Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr is up against big names in the race for the speakership in the 18th Congress, but he believes he has an edge over them.

The party mate of President Rodrigo Duterte said unlike other candidates for the top House post, he has no plans to run for higher office in 2022. 

“Ang edge ko po sa kanila (My edge over them is), number one: I have no political ambition sa 2022,” Gonzales told reporters on Tuesday, June 4, ahead of his meeting with the 54-strong party-list coalition that vows to vote as a bloc in the speakership race. 

“Kasi iba kasi naririnig natin, ano? Kapag umupo ka sa taas, sa Speaker, you're planning for higher office for the next elections. But Dong Gonzales, wala po tayong ambition sa national. Wala po tayong ambition na maging senador, maging vice president, or something. Ang plano ko lang po eh gagawin ko ang buong makakaya ko sa House of Representatives,” said Gonzales.  

(Because we hear different things, right? That when you sit as Speaker, you’re planning for higher office for the next elections. But Dong Gonzales doesn’t have any ambition for a national post. I don’t have any ambition to become a senator, vice president, or something. My only plan is to do everything I can for the House of Representatives.) 

Gonzales, who first ran and won for congressman in 2013, also said he did not have any personal business interests to protect should he become Speaker. 

“Sinasabi ko lang 'yong totoo: Wala po akong negosyong pinoproteksyunan. Kilala 'nyo po ako. I'm just an ordinary congressman…. I came from a humble beginning, simpleng pamilya… My father is a farmer, my mother is only a tindera, and we are 12 in the family,” said Gonzales.

(I'm only saying the truth: I don’t have any business to proect. You know me. I’m just an ordinary congressman… I came from humble beginnings, from a simple family.... My father is a farmer, my mother is only a vendor, and we are 12 in the family.) 

He said that only half of his siblings, including himself, were able to finish their studies, and that education was the only – and most important – legacy bestowed upon them by their parents.

“Ang edukasyon ang naging behikulo ko sa lahat ng pinuntahan ko ngayon. Naging professional ako, naging negosyante ako. Papasok ako sa pulitika, naging congressman ako (Education became my vehicle to where I am now. I became a professional, I became a businessman. I entered politics, and became a congressman.)

He considered the death of his wife Elizabeth Panlilio Gonzales in the tragic Resorts World attack in 2017 as “the most painful experience” he had to go through in his life. 

Two years later, Gonzales found himself in what could be the most challenging part of his political career, so far – being one of 3 possible candidates for speaker of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Apart from Gonzales, other PDP-Laban lawmakers vying for the speakership are Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, who is believed to be backed by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, the ousted Speaker who is eyeing a comeback.

PDP-Laban has left it to party chairman Duterte to decide on their candidate in the speakership race once the 18th Congress opens session on July 22.

Other prominent candidates for Speaker are Leyte 1st District representative-elect Martin Romualdez and Taguig City-Pateros representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections. – 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.

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