MANILA, Philippines – It will ultimately be up to members of the House of Representatives to decide who will be Speaker, with President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano a mere “suggestion.”
“In the ultimate analysis, the vote on the Speaker would lie on the members of Congress. The only reason why the President gave that suggestion was because those who were vying for it went to him,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, July 11, during a Malacañang news briefing.
He made these remarks as the race for the speakership heats up, with talks of lawmakers possibly not supporting Cayetano’s speakership despite Duterte’s endorsement.
Duterte had backed a term-sharing deal for Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco in which the former would be speaker for the first 15 months, and then the latter for the following 21 months.
The President’s announcement drew criticism that he was stepping on the independence of the House. Duterte responded by saying that involvement in the politics of choosing the lower chamber’s leaders is not interference with how the chamber works.
The President initially refused to endorse anyone, but said he was forced to give his blessing because Speaker hopefuls kept hounding him.
Panelo said Duterte would not take it against anyone if they did not vote for Cayetano. After all, said the spokesman, Duterte did not want to dictate who would be the House’s leader in the first place.
“Siya ang linapitan eh. ‘Kayo lumapit sa akin, sabi ‘nyo payag kayo, eh di sige pinagbigyan ko kayo.’ Nasa sa kanila ‘yun,” said Panelo.
(He was the one they approached. “You went to me, you said you’d follow me, so I gave you what you wanted.” It’s up to them.)
Aside from Cayetano and Velasco, Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez had also wanted to be Speaker, but agreed with Duterte’s recommendation that he be Majority Floor Leader instead.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s children, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, had expressed support for Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab. – Rappler.com