President Benigno S. Aquino III graces the inauguration  of the Senator Neptali Gonzales Academic Hall at the Rizal Technological University on Thursday (August 27). Also in photo are House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson and PCCO Secretary 'Sonny' Coloma. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III graces the inauguration of the Senator Neptali Gonzales Academic Hall at the Rizal Technological University on Thursday (August 27). Also in photo are House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson and PCCO Secretary ‘Sonny’ Coloma. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 6 (Mabuhay) — House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Tuesday expressed belief that Speaker Sonny Belmonte will keep the top job at the Lower House should Mar Roxas win the presidency.

Gonzales said Roxas himself backed Belmonte for Speaker when he addressed lawmakers at the recent birthday celebration of Belmonte with congressmen.

“Si Speaker, siyempre LP (Liberal Party) yan. Si Mar Roxas, when the Speaker last Friday had a celebration, dumating si Mar, bumati. When Mar was asked to say a few words, bumati siya at sinabi niya kay Speaker, pag siya binigyan ng pagkakataon to win the presidential election, Speaker Belmonte will still be the speaker. That’s coming from Mar,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales, who will no longer be a congressman next Congress as he is on his last term, is unaware if they have party members with their own ambitions for the speakership.

Gonzales’ comments came amid reports Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and former Senator Manny Villar may also be interested in the speakership in the next Congress.

“The rest will be dependent on kung sino gusto lumaban, will be able to form yung kanyang coalition if kailangan niya coalition,” he said.

As far as Benitez is concerned, he said, “Hindi ko alam kung part of the future plan ni Albee will be to gun for the speakership. Depende yan kung sa NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition), kung may nag-aano. It will all depend sino mananalo na partido sa election in so far as congressmen are concerned. Mas maraming LP mananalo, mas kumpleto ang slate ng LP.”

Benitez now heads the 40-man Visayan bloc in the lower House.

Villar, on the other hand, is reportedly eyeing to reclaim his old congressional seat in Las Piñas, which will be vacated should his son Mark win a Senate seat.

Villar was speaker during the Estrada administration. He led the defection of congressmen against Estrada, securing the speakership despite Estrada’s preference for Joker Arroyo.

Gonzales said of Villar, “Not a question of babalik but how to keep in touch with the current crop. Minsan di na rin nila kakilala. Kung babalik man siya, he must be able to develop closeness with the vast majority of congressmen.”

BINAY’S PICK: TOBY TIANGCO

On the other hand, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) President, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco is the preferred speaker of Vice President Jejomar Binay should he win the country’s presidency.

“Bahala si Toby. Di lang pwede nunumbrahan ka ng presidente. Kailangan there must be some sort of acceptance from the members of the House of Representatives on whether he or she can be their leader. You’re able to rise above the rest,” Gonzales noted.

Gonzales added it is only under the Belmonte speakership that the House had positive public approval ratings.

“Only during the period ng (Belmonte) speakership… the House has consistently enjoyed positive rating. Siguro may ginagawa kaming tama; otherwise, we will not be deserving of such positive rating. Even at the height of the PDAF controversy, while the approval rating of the House dipped, hindi rin naging negative rating,” he said.

He said the House has deliberately shied away from investigations. “Kami sa committee on rules, we’re conscious of the fact nag-slow down kami sa pag-report ng investigation in aid of legislation. Our theory is nawawalan ng panahon ang committees to process bills, napupunta lang sa imbestigasyon. We have devoted time to legislative work.”

In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from September 2 to 5, 2015 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, Speaker Belmonte enjoyed a net satisfaction rating of +5, down from +9 in June. The lowest net satisfaction rating of Belmonte was -1 in March 2014 while the highest was +20 in August 2012.

Belmonte, for his part, said, “It has really been a productive 15th and 16th Congress. Some of the bills have been languishing for so many years, and we managed to get it to. We still have many challenges of course, but hopefully we can come to terms with Senate and executive with respect to other bills that could be passed.”

“Ako, alam mo, the important thing to me is not me, myself, it is the institution, and the Congress, the House. Whatever my ratings may be, if the House is good, or better than me. Then that’s good. It makes everybody proud. Pasalamat na lang ako na hindi pa nagbe-below zero ever,” he added. (MNS)