As expected, President Duterte’s personal choice for Speaker, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, was overwhelmingly elected as the chief of the 293-man House of Representatives during the opening of the first regular session of the 17th Congress yesterday.
Alvarez garnered 251 votes in a three-cornered speakership race, followed by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat who got eight votes, and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was supported by seven lawmakers. Twenty one House members abstained from voting.
House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” R. Belmonte Jr. nominated Alvarez to succeed him in the 17th Congress, which was seconded by Reps. Eric Singson, Mercedes Alvarez, Fredenil Castro, and Raneo Abu, all of who were elected as House deputy speakers yesterday afternoon.
“I declare my support and the Liberal Party’s support to the speakership bid of Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez,” Belmonte, who decided to lead the LP contingent in the super majority coalition over the weekend, said.
After his election, Alvarez, stalwart of the the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, took his oath of office before the youngest House member, Ang Kabuhayan partylist Rep. Dennis Laogan.
During his speech, Alvarez called on his colleagues to “roll up their sleeves and get to work” to pass the priority measures of the Duterte administration.
These include the joint resolutions for convening a Constitutional Convention that will amend the Constitution to pave the way for a shift from the unitary to a federal system of government, bills seeking the restoration of the death penalty and reducing the age of criminal liability of juvenile offenders from 15 to nine-years-old, and measures granting emergency powers to Duterte to address traffic woes in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
(CHARISSA M. LUCI)