Tight race for speaker

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — UNTIL now nobody has a clear edge in the speakership race because members of the House of Representatives are still waiting to see who will be the first to get the so-called “critical mass.”

This is the assessment by Cebu congressman- elect Pablo Garcia as he brushed aside the claim of his rival, incumbent Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Garcia told reporters in a press briefing held at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati City that if De Venecia has indeed the support of 166-plus congressmen, then the latter should take a vacation because he will surely get reelected, but it is not the case.

“Kung totoo na meron na siyang 166 di sana nagbakasyon na siya dahil siguradong panalo na siya, pero bakit panay ang tawag niya sa mga congressmen?” Garcia said.

The Cebu solon said until now neither of them has the advantage because they have yet to gain the number required to get the swing vote in the speakership election on July 23.

It was learned that the critical mass that should be attained by a candidate for speaker should be 80 congressmen who will back his bid.

Garcia is banking on his battlecry of institutional reforms at the House of Representatives which he said has the lowest approval rating due to the leadership’s policy of accommodations.

He cited the number of committees and sub-committees that have been created to accommodate individuals and groups so as to preserve the reign of De Venecia at the House.

“Sumobra ang dami ng committees at sub-committees sa kongreso at lahat ay kasapi o chairman ng isang komite. Imagine sa dami halos umabot sa 3,000 ang members ng mga komite samantalang 200-plus lang ang mga kongresista,” Garcia said.

De Venecia has been calling for a party caucus but the camp of Garcia said the Speaker should first define the parameters of the caucus like who should attend where and when.

Garcia said De Venecia’s call for a caucus to determine the next Speaker of the House showed that he is “running scared.”

“If De Venecia really has the support of the majority of congressmen as he claimed, then he would just wait for the opening of the 14 th Congress and the election of the House Speaker next month,” Garcia said.

“His caucus call shows he’s running scared. I’m not going to add to his insecurities by agreeing to this faulty scheme as he already has enough problems to worry about,” Garcia said.

While the two have been exchanging barbs other political groups outside of the administration party are watching on the sidelines waiting to see who would emerge as the choice of their respective party members.