By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras, Reporter
HUGPONG NG Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, endorsed another Davao City congressman, 3rd District Rep. Isidro T. Ungab, for the House speaker race.
The party made the announcement after Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte, brother of Ms. Carpio, announced that he is considering making a bid for the top post in the House.
“We understand if President Duterte, because of delicadeza, will not accept the intent of our brother from Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (the President’s local party), Congressman Paolo Duterte, to resolve the conflict among candidates,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Therefore, we are endorsing the bid of Congressman Isidro Ungab for Speaker.”
HNP cited that Mr. Ungab, who was a banker before joining politics, is an experienced lawmaker and the only one to hold the chairmanships of the ways and means, and appropriations committees.
Mr. Ungab, in a separate statement, said he is “honored” by the endorsement and that he is “a good soldier under the command of every Filipino.”
He also committed “to support the Legislative Agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte, ensure further economic growth, lower poverty incidence and to help create more opportunities for all Filipinos.”
HNP further suggested that the other candidates for speakership can take other crucial House positions.
“We suggest that Cong. Alan Peter Cayetano take the Majority Leader position, Cong. Lord Alan Velasco to take the Appropriations Committee, and Cong. Martin Romualdez to head the Accounts Committee,” said the party.
“We earnestly hope that everyone can see the light in this option and move forward with urgency in serving our country,” it added.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, a member of and has been endorsed by the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party, was previously the apparent HNP bet for speakership given his presence during the regional group’s nationwide campaign.
In at least one HNP campaign sortie, Ms. Carpio raised the hand of Mr. Velasco and introduced him as the next House speaker.
Ms. Carpio was tagged as an influential hand in the leadership shake-up in the House during her father’s third State of the Nation Address last year.
Meanwhile, another speakership hopeful, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos T. Zarate, said the endorsement of Mr. Ungab will not solve the conflict among the other aspirants who are also allied with the administration.
“Proposing Congressman Ungab as a common candidate will not solve anything. Because how will the big parties take it now, that they are being dictated by a regional party like Hugpong ng Pagbabago?” Mr. Zarate told reporters on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles on Wednesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte is “serious” with his statement that he will resign once his son, Rep. Duterte, joins the speakership race.
In a media interview at the Palace, Mr. Nograles said Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go, the President’s former special assistant who now serves as his “consultant,” has already spoken on the matter.
“I think Senator Bong Go spoke about it already. If you go by the words of Senator Bong Go, him knowing the President the most, siguro (maybe), we could see that the statement of Senator Bong Go is that the President is serious,” said Mr. Nograles, who served as Davao City 1st District congressman from 2010 to 2018 before he joined the President’s Cabinet.
Mr. Nograles further said that while the President already declared that he is leaving the matter to the members of the House of Representatives as he does not want to “hurt” his friends, he might still make a choice.
“Until the President gives his final decision on the matter, everything is still up in the air, which is what is happening,” Mr. Nograles said.
“PDP-Laban is the ruling party, because it has the most number…of representatives. Because it’s a ruling party, people tend to ask, ano ba ang desisyon ng (what is the decision of the) ruling party? I think that’s where the question is really. That’s why everybody is asking the President to say what his preference is,” he explained. — with Arjay L. Balinbin