When asked if the House speakership takeover of his PDP-Laban party mate Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco is now final, Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador Leachon implied that the vote of the members of the House of Representatives is according to the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Sinabi na natin sa napakaraming panahon: the word of the President is worth more than 300 votes in Congress. Hindi natin puwedeng, mahirap tayong maging plastic doon,” said Leachon, adding that while the Constitution states that the executive and legislative branches are co-equal, legislators “traditionally” tend to follow whatever the president decides.

Leachon zeroed in on the battle for the speakership last year, when Velasco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez were the top contenders. Cayetano was initially trailing behind in the race, until Duterte intervened and gave the term-sharing agreement the go-ahead.

“With all due respect with the Speaker, he was, in fact, even trailing behind Martin Romualdez during that time, the Majority Leader. But then, out of deference to the President and out of respect, binalewala namin ‘yun eh. ‘Yun ang gusto, eh,” said Leachon.

Even before Duterte rose to power, the House has long been criticized for being a rubber stamp to the president, primarily because of the Speaker’s shepherding to deliver what the country’s chief executive needs in terms of legislative support.

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