Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. accepted Wednesday the challenge of Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia to let the House of Representatives pick its next speaker through secret balloting.
“If he (Garcia) wins in the secret balloting, he should allow me to raise his hand to signify his victory, but if I win he should also show some sportsmanship,” de Venecia told ABS-CBN News Channel in a phone patch interview with host Ricky Carandang.
But de Venecia said the secret balloting should be done before July 14 “to allow the victor to prepare the structure of his leadership.”
Lawmakers will elect the next speaker in an all-party caucus before the opening of the 14th Congress on July 23, where President Arroyo will deliver her State of the Nation address.
De Venecia is aiming for an unprecedented 5th term as speaker of the administration-controlled House of Representatives. De Venecia and Garcia are both pro-administration.
The ruling Lakas-CMD, of which De Venecia is president, has tentatively set on July 18-19 its caucus with allied parties on who should be the administration’s bet for the speakership race. The other pro-administration parties are Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Kampi, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition and Partidong Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas.
Garcia belongs to Kampi
By tradition and under House rules, the candidate for speaker who gets the second highest vote in the plenary automatically becomes the House minority leader, or the leader of the opposition bloc. This means the speakership fight cannot be a toss-up between de Venecia and Garcia because both belong to pro-administration parties.
But de Venecia appears to have the advantage, with 177 of the 236 congressmen professing their support for the incumbent speaker.
Garcia refused to cite figures, but said his supporters are increasing everyday and that the de Venecia camp is in for a big surprise on election day.
Meanwhile, Garcia called on de Venecia to withdraw from the speakership fight due to “lack of moral ascendancy” in the light of the alleged attempt of his son Jose III to wrest from China’s ZTE Corp. the government’s controversial broadband project.
“The charge is so serious that the prudent thing for De Venecia to do may be to forego his speakership bid at the moment,” Garcia said in a statement. “This way, he can focus on dispelling public perception that his son has been using his influence to gain an edge in bagging the broadband project.” Garcia said the Speaker “has to consider delicadeza over the impropriety of his son’s actions.”
The younger de Venecia has been very vocal against the government’s contract with ZTE. Jose III is a co-founder of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), a rival of ZTE in the broadband deal.
Garcia said the speaker should have compelled his son “not to dip his fingers in government contracts.”
“At the very least, the scandalous situation of Jose de Venecia III going around seeking a government contract and attacking a deal already awarded by the government is immoral,” Garcia said.
Posted on Jul 11, 2007, 3:18 PM from IP address 22.214.171.124