After a faction in PDP-Laban, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, knocked out senators Manny Pacquiao and Koko Pimentel as party leaders, will the dominant group now go after senators' allies in the House of Representatives?
Party mates who are practically inextricable from Pacquiao helped build the House of PDP-Laban’s Lord Allan Velasco. In fact, the most prominent of them carries Pacquiao’s name in his representation: 1-PACMAN Representative Mikee Romero.
Among the 33 deputy speakers, Romero is known to be in the inner circle of Velasco.
File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler
When Velasco doubled down on insisting on his term-sharing pact with former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in October 2020, Romero was the first fatality in the ranks – Cayetano stripped him of the deputy speakership.
Romero then played a key role in winning over the House for Velasco as he gathered the House’s 54-strong party-list bloc to join their new leadership.
Then there’s Representative Enrico Pineda, the other face of 1-PACMAN in the House. After Romero’s removal, Pineda immediately slammed Cayetano.
File photo from 1-PACMAN
Pineda is currently the chairperson of the House committee on labor and employment and sits as a vice chairperson of the committees on games and amusements, good government and public accountability, and overseas workers affairs.
Pacquiao also has blood relations.
He has a brother among the deputy speakers around Velasco. Ruel Pacquiao is the representative of the lone district of Sarangani, a post Manny Pacquiao used to hold before becoming senator.
Ruel Pacquiao ran and won under PDP-Laban in 2019. When PDP-Laban lawmakers signed a manifestation supporting Cusi's faction of PDP-Laban, his name was nowhere to be found.
Another Pacquiao brother is also a powerful lawmaker in the Velasco House. OFW Family Club Representative Bobby Pacquiao is a vice chairman of the committees on Mindanao affairs, overseas workers affairs, and youth and sports development.
Ron Munsayac, who is also PDP-Laban’s executive director, doubts the party will be on the offensive against Pacquiao-allied leaders in the House.
“What’s happening in the PDP-Laban is an internal battle inside the PDP-Laban. Whatever the dynamics they have in the House is separate, because when it comes to their jobs, they are doing their jobs,” Munsayac told Rappler in a phone interview, referring to Romero, Pineda, and Bobby Pacquiao.
In a text message, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said it was not an issue for the House leadership.
“DS Romero and Chair Pineda fully support the legislative agenda of the Speaker. They are active members of the so-called majority in the House supporting Speaker Velasco,” Rodriguez said.
Another deputy speaker, SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta, emphasizes that the House has its “separate” dynamics from the PDP-Laban.
By this, he means that the House, while controlled by a supermajority for Duterte, is not a supermajority solely by PDP-Laban.
Among over 300 House members, only around 60 belong to PDP-Laban. The rest are distributed among established national political parties, like Lakas-CMD, Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, and the National Unity Party.
PDP-Laban needs all the numbers it can get to pass their party chairman Duterte’s legislative agenda – which, so far, has only accomplished 4 of the 21 identified in 2020.
Marcoleta describes the Romero-led party-list bloc as a “pillar” at the House.
“Your house will not be built on uneven ground,” he said. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.