Duterte 'refuses' to choose next House Speaker

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte claims he won't name the next House Speaker, preferring House members make up their own minds.

In a speech on Tuesday, June 25, Duterte even said he would rather House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo choose the next Speaker, but she supposedly declined.

"You choose Ma'am. I will ask a favor.... Huwag mo na ako bigyan ng sakit ng loob (Don't give me heart ache). They are all my friends. Tutal ikaw naman pinaka-senior dito (Anyway, you are the most senior here)," Duterte said.

Duterte joked he would send Arroyo back to jail if she does not do as he wishes.

"Sabi ko, 'pag ayaw niya mamili, pakulong ko siya uli (I said, if she doesn't choose, I'll have her jailed again.)" the President said.

At the time, he was giving a speech in front of incoming locally elected officials and winning Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial candidates.

He told House members to just "sort it (the Speakership) out" amongst themselves.

"Mag-usap kayo uli. Bahala kayo sa buhay n'yo (You discuss again. You take charge)," Duterte said.

Despite the President indicating Arroyo declined his offer, a source privy to the talks among political parties in the House said Arroyo is already mulling who she would "recommend" as Speaker to Duterte.

"In fact, GMA issued word that she is thinking of who to recommend to Digong," the source said.

The source said Arroyo has not made a final choice but may come up with one soon.

His aides, including incoming Senator Bong Go, had said Duterte would be naming his chosen Speaker bet by June 28.

His partymates at PDP-Laban even met with him to finalize choices, whittling it down to 3 – Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, and Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr.

Velasco and other non-PDP-Laban politicians hoping to be speaker, incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez and incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, have taken every opportunity to meet and be seen with Duterte. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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