Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

8 Lakas members including Magsaysay 'withdraw' support for de Venecia

MANILA -- House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. may not get the full backing of his party mates in Lakas for a fifth term when the 14th Congress opens next month.

Eight lawmakers belonging to Lakas, where the Pangasinan congressman is party president, have reportedly expressed openness to support other candidates to ensure that genuine reforms are instituted.

The manifesto, which was distributed in a press conference of two Liberal Party lawmakers at Dusit Hotel in Makati City Tuesday, had the eight saying that they are keeping their options open on whom to support as Speaker of the next Congress.

The Lakas-CMD congressmen who signed the manifesto include Representatives Lorna Silverio (Bulacan), Maria Victoria Alvarado (Bulacan), Milagros Magsaysay (Zambales), Jose Yap (Tarlac), Joseph Violago (Nueva Ecija), Pedro Pancho (Bulacan), Carmelo Lazatin (Pampanga), and Reylina Nicolas (Bulacan).

"We, the Lakas members of the Central Luzon congressmen, take this opportunity to affirm our allegiance to the Lakas party. However, we have agreed not to make any commitment at the moment on who we are going to support as Speaker of the House for the 14th Congress," the manifesto said.

It added: "We are keeping our options open to ensure that the legislative agenda of the administration can be carried out until the end of the term of Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 30, 2010."

But a statement from de Venecia's camp denied that the eight congressmen made this manifesto.

The statement said six of the Lakas lawmakers mentioned in the manifesto called on de Venecia Tuesday afternoon while the two others called him to convey their support.

"We are for Speaker de Venecia and the continuity of his leadership, and we would like to take part in a significant way in the committee work and leadership of the House in the 14th Congress," said Silverio on behalf of the Lakas lawmakers.

Iloilo Representative Ferjenel Biron, a stalwart of the Lakas-CMD, believes de Venecia will get the support of all Lakas congressmen during the day of the battle.

Amid these developments, Ilocos Norte Representative Roque Ablan on Tuesday warned colleagues against changing horses in the middle of a race.

"What we need is continuity of our socio-economic and political reform programs clearly enunciated by the de Venecia leadership. The country's economy is now growing at a steady pace," said Ablan.

During the press conference, Quezon Representative Lorenzo Erin Tanada III, who represents Senator Franklin Drilon's wing in the Liberal Party (LP), and Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza's LP wing denied that lawmakers are after bribe money to support a candidate for the House speakership.

Tanada and Suarez denied that they accepted money either from the camp of de Venecia and from Cebu Representative-elect Pablo Garcia.

But Manila Representative-elect Amado Bagatsing said it was de Venecia and not Garcia who was allegedly using money to gain support for the speakership of the 14th Congress.

In a statement, Bagatsing revealed that de Venecia allegedly offered him money in exchange for his support to the Speaker's "legislative agenda."

Bagatsing said he refused to accept the money being handed to him by a staff of de Venecia but that he signed the Speaker's legislative agenda just the same as he basically found nothing wrong with it.

But Bagatsing said he was shocked later on when de Venecia bandied his name as among those who are supporting the Pangasinan congressman for House Speaker.

"Speaker de Venecia should not resort to misrepresentation or to devious ploys. My signature was in support of the legislative agenda he presented and not for his bid for the speakership," he said.

ParaƱaque City Representative Eduardo Zialcita, a member of Lakas-CMD and staunch supporter of de Venecia, said there was no attempt to bribe Bagatsing.

In MalacaƱang, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita dismissed the feud for the House speakership between de Venecia and Garcia as just a war of words.

Ermita, in ambush interview after the flag-raising ceremony at Rizal Park on the occasion of the country's 109th Independence Day celebration, said the rivalry between de Venecia and Garcia "is not as scorching as it is being projected in the media."

Reports citing House of Representatives insiders said both the camps of de Venecia and Garcia are offering hefty amounts to "buy" support.


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