Duterte meets with Speaker hopefuls in Japan

MEETING IN TOKYO. Three rivals for the speakership meet with President Rodrigo Duterte during his trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Photo from senator-elect Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte took time during his busy trip to Japan to meet with 3 congressmen who want the House speakership.

In a photo sent by senator-elect Bong Go, Duterte poses with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, and incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez.

The photo was taken on Wednesday, May 29, Duterte's first full day in Tokyo, Japan, where he is set to attend the Nikkei International Forum on the Future of Asia and meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Not in the meeting was Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, another Speaker hopeful.

Cayetano, in a statement, said that during the meeting, all 3 hopefuls "expressed their desire to help the administration."

"I requested a more principled way to the Speakership. Trusting the institution and protecting its integrity is essential to the reforms we are fighting for," he said.

Only two days ago, the President had said in public that he is not taking any side when it comes to the speakership. He admitted that Cayetano and Velasco had approached him before the 2019 elections, but he did not give either one any commitment that he would back them over the rest.

Alvarez and Romualdez had sent feelers to him but he did not promise his support to them either.

"Sa speakership, wala akong kinakampihan (For the speakership, I am not on anyone's side)," Duterte had said last May 27.

As president and leader of the ruling PDP-Laban party, Duterte's blessing is seen as a gamechanger for anyone vying for the speakership.

But even his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte – also seen as a "kingmaker" in the House after she helped oust former speaker Alvarez – denied she is endorsing anyone for Speaker. But she admitted having a personal choice.

Sara also made clear that she is still locking horns with Alvarez by rejecting his peace offer after the elections.

She also claimed Cayetano met her in Davao City and made a "veiled threat" that if she endorses Velasco for Speaker, she would be breaking up their "group" and affecting plans for the 2022 presidential elections. 

All eyes are on the House as Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wraps up her term as Pampanga 2nd District Representative. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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