President Rodrigo Duterte met with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his rival Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday evening, September 29, to settle the two lawmakers' stalemate over the speakership.
Rappler confirmed that Duterte ended the impasse between Cayetano and Velasco, but sources from both camps, as of 11 pm on Tuesday, had issued conflicting statements on the decision reached.
On Wednesday, lawmakers confirmed that Duterte wants Velasco to become Speaker, in accordance with the term-sharing agreement he brokered a year ago.
Duterte first held a meeting with just Cayetano, Velasco, and his longtime aide and now Senator Bong Go at around 6 pm.
The Chief Executive eventually also spoke to the larger group of 17 lawmakers, including Cayetano and Velasco. So far, no one has told media what exactly transpired in the smaller meeting.
"Tapos na ang boksing (The boxing is over)," tweeted PDP-Laban spokesman Ron Munsayac on Tuesday evening.
When asked if it is safe to say Duterte has resolved the speakership dispute, Go told Rappler, "Parang ganu'n na po (That seems to be the case)."
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Cayetano, not Malacañang, will confirm the meeting’s outcome. "It's for the House leadership to announce."
But House committee on good government and public accountability chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado – who attended the meeting – claimed Duterte did not give a clear decision on the speakership row.
Sy-Alvarado was part of Cayetano's entourage.
"Wala po siyang sinabi (He didn't mention anything)," Sy-Alvarado said of Duterte.
He said the President, however, wants all parties to be "united for the sake of the country."
Cayetano and Velasco were supposed to "share" the speakership by dividing their months in office, but Cayetano appeared bent on breaching this deal. Duterte, who brokered this term-sharing agreement, was expected to break the impasse.
The House supermajority and minority blocs issued manifestos on Sunday, September 27, to throw their support behind Cayetano, who was Duterte's running mate in the 2016 elections.
Velasco, on the other hand, urged Cayetano to uphold their "crystal-clear" term-sharing deal.
Lawmakers said the following were present in Tuesday’s meeting:
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.