HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. expressed readiness on Wednesday to cooperate with the incoming administration of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the presumptive winner of the presidential race.
Belmonte, vice chair of the administration Liberal Party (LP), extended the hands of reconciliation to Duterte as the LP is training to clash with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and the National Unity Party in the speakership battle in July.
The Speaker won a fresh mandate last Monday as the representative of the 4th district of Quezon City in the House of Representatives.
He said he is willing to form a coalition in the House that would create a "super majority" of pro-Duterte bloc which main purpose is to shield the next president from any impeachment moves.
"Under me [as Speaker in the 17th Congress] they (lawmakers) will be supportive of Digong's (Duterte) programs and can form the nucleus of his super majority," said Belmonte.
Belmonte, who was the campaign manager of administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, will be seeking a third and final term as House Speaker in the 17th Congress.
Meanwhile, Duterte's political party, PDP-Laban, has already started discussions with winning party-list groups for a coalition that might give them leadership of the majority bloc through former Transportation Secretary and now Davao del Sur Representative-elect Pantaleon Alvarez.
Alvarez, being the only elected lawmaker in his party, might have a difficult time to grab the speakership from Belmonte.
Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez has also been floated as a dark horse in the speakership race.
Benitez, who campaigned for presidential bet Senator Grace Poe, reportedly has the support of his former political party, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), and heads the Visayan bloc.
Quezon Representative Mark Enverga, NPC spokesperson, said their party is open for unity calls to form a potential alliance with other political groups.
"We would support any call for unity. It would be of interest for us to meet and discuss the parameters of super coalition agreement," said Enverga.
For his part, NUP Executive Director Reginald Velasco said the party will nominate Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles for the speakership.
Velasco said the party, which is assured of at least 30 congressional seats, will be fielding Nograles as its candidate for Speaker.
"It would be unwise for Duterte to give LP control of both Houses. It’s like putting nail to seal his coffin," said Velasco.
The NUP official said Nograles, son of former Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr., enjoys the trust and confidence of Duterte, being a nephew of the country's presumptive next leader. (Sunnex)