by Jherlyn Meneses/Asiajournal.com
MEMBERS of President Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party met and agreed to support moves to oust House Speaker Jose de Venecia. The two presidential sons Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, a party-mate of de Venecia in the ruling Lakas party and Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo were present at the meeting held in Quezon City on Wednesday night.
At least 66 Kampi members attended. Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, Kampi party president said that the “reform bloc” seeking to oust de Venecia was able to garner 134 signatures. He added that he will present to De Venecia on Monday the manifesto declaring “loss of confidence” signed by 134 lawmakers. Villafuerte further stated that they wanted to avoid confrontation on the plenary and they didn’t want to hurt de Venecia’s feelings and hoped that this will give the House leader a graceful exit.
De Venecia said he would fight on. He said he and his supporters in the majority coalition would call for a floor vote next Monday to see if members of the anti-de Venecia faction would succeed in their moves to unseat the Speaker.
“We still have the numbers. They don’t have the numbers. In fact they are under the gun. They are pressured to produce 121 warm bodies on Monday,” De Venecia told reporters. He said his group expects a heated debate and is confident he still has the House majority’s support
The pro-De Venecia group also issued their own manifesto to declare status quo in the House.
The move came less than a week after President Arroyo – then in Switzerland – relayed a message through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to Lakas members that she was discouraging moves to oust de Venecia. President Arroyo however continued to distance herself from moves by her party-mates. She met with De Venecia on Thursday night and gave a virtual assurance that he would not lose his post to the so-called reform bloc in the lower chamber.
Former president Joseph Estrada is set to meet with the leaders of the United Opposition (UNO), including Representative Rufus Rodriguez of Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), to tackle the fate of Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr.
Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella said that De Venecia’s days as Speaker are now numbered. He even advised De Venecia to discipline his son, businessman Joey De Venecia III, the one who exposed the alleged anomaly and bribery involving the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal entered by the government with the China-based ZTE firm. This may have played a part in the ouster move against him.
“For as long as he cannot discipline his son, there will always be allies of the President and the First Gentleman who will be hurt by his accusations and take it against the Speaker” Puentevella said.