Parties urged to let members cast ‘conscience’ vote for Speaker

MANILA A reelected lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Thursday appealed to leaders of political parties to free their members from rigid party stand in choosing the Speaker for the 18th Congress, stressing that lawmakers need to cast their conscience vote to elect a House leader who is truly representative of the people.

I am appealing to all leaders of political parties: let democracy reign in the House of Representatives and give us the freedom to choose our own Speaker, Bulacan Rep. Rida Robes said.

We have to allow the congressmen to cast their conscience vote if we are to elect a House leader who is truly representative of the Filipino people's will, she added.

Robes, who is a member of the ruling PDP-Laban party, made the remarks following statements issued by several major parties and influential blocs that they would be voting as one for their respective group's speakership bet.

The PDP-Laban has even warned its members of sanctions should they support other candidates other than the party's official bet Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

But Robes, who is supporting the speakership bid of Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, pointed out that congressmen do not have to follow the dictates of their party leaders if these run counter to the wishes of their constituents who elected them as representatives to Congress.

We are mandated to represent our constituents in the halls of Congress. It is they we represent, not our party leaders when we cast our votes in committee hearings and plenary sessions, she said.

Let the words of President Manuel Quezon be our guide then in casting our votes: My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins, Robes said.

She also noted that even President Rodrigo Duterte himself acknowledged the independence of senators and congressmen in choosing their own leaders for their respective chambers.

The President has spoken and we heard him loud and clear. He will allow legislators to choose their own leaders, and he will not interfere with this democratic process, Robes said.

If our President has the decency to show this much respect for senators and congressmen, why then our political leaders do not follow his lead? she said.

Robes urged leaders of political parties to re-think their position of imposing sanctions on party mates who do not tow the official party line in the Speakership fight.

We are loyal party members but please allow us to use our conscience in exercising our votes, which are reflective of our constituents' aspirations, Robes said.

In an earlier interview, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda bared that around 40 PDP-Laban lawmakers, including himself, have expressed their support to Romualdez as Speaker.

We endorsed Romualdez because of his credibility and capability to carry the reforms of President Duterte. What is more important here is who can deliver the legislative agenda of the President, he said.

Kung bibilangin namin 'yung mga nag-commit din kay Martin ay mga 40 (If we count how many have committed to Martin, it's about 40), so it cannot simply be overwritten by some pronouncement, Salceda said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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