Duterte won't step in to assure Velasco of speakership

Despite brokering a deal that would have given Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco 21 months starting October as House Speaker, President Rodrigo Duterte declined from publicly pushing lawmakers to back Velasco's bid.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said this was the sentiment he got from Duterte when they spoke on Monday, September 21.

While the Chief Executive "hopes" for his allies in the House to fulfill an agreement for Velasco to take over the Speakership from Cayetano come October, he is powerless if Velasco fails to get the necessary votes.

"He’s hoping na tutupad sa usapan ang partido pero kung wala pong numbers si Cong Lord Allan, eh wala siyang magagawa," said Roque on Tuesday, September 22 during a virtual press briefing.

(He's hoping for the party to fulfil the agreement but if Congressman Lord Allan doesn't have the numbers, he can't do anything.)

"The position of the President is he will let congressmen decide on their own leaders," Roque added.

Why does this matter?

Last year, it was Duterte himself who proposed a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, who are both his allies and who both asked for his endorsement.

Cayetano was to serve for the first 15 months, or until October this year, while Velasco would be Speaker for the next 21 months or until the end of Duterte's term in 2022.

But sources say Cayetano is moving to ensure he stays Speaker, reneging on the deal.

Last March, he said Velasco would become Speaker if Duterte wills it.

The Speakership saga heated up over the weekend, with presidential son Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte threatening to declare the seats of the House Speaker and Deputy Speakers vacant. But the plan did not push through on Monday. – 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.