Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, fresh from his victory at the Batasang Pambansa, saw President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday night, September 30.
"Nagpulong po kagabi si Pangulong Duterte kasama po si Brother Eddie Villanueva na deputy speaker po ngayon at kasama rin po si Speaker Cayetano," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday, October 1.
(President Duterte last night met with Brother Eddie Villanueva who is now deputy speaker and Speaker Cayetano.)
Also in the meeting were the Speaker's wife Taguig Representative Lani Cayetano, and sister Senator Pia Cayetano. Senator Bong Go, Duterte's longtime aide, was present.
Despite the timing of the meeting, Roque said it was a mere coincidence that it happened after Cayetano was able to secure a continuation of his speakership.
The spokesman said the meeting was arranged by Villanueva "two weeks ago," primarily so he could "pray over" the President.
Still, the speakership saga came up.
"Though the intention of Brother Eddie was just to pray over the President, the President repeated his stance that the issue of leadership at the House of Representatives is an internal issue of the House of Representatives," Roque said in Filipino.
Though Duterte said he respects the vote of 184 lawmakers to reject Cayetano's resignation offer, it's still uncertain if his rival, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, will take a shot at the post in the coming months.
His camp had been saying that Velasco wanted to become Speaker on October 14 yet, and that Duterte had expressed openness to him helming the lower chamber in December.
Can Velasco then count on Duterte's support then or is this the President's last say on the matter?
Roque could not give an answer other than repeating Duterte's statement.
"'Yan na po ang statement ng Presidente, stay out na siya diyan, no comment na (That was the statement of the President, he's staying out, making no comment)," said the spokesman.
Asked if Duterte will rally behind his PDP-Laban party mate Velasco in December, Roque said, "I think the President recognizes already the votes of the individual members of the House."
Roque said Duterte had no idea that a majority of lawmakers would vote to keep Cayetano as Speaker. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.