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Duterte on 'coup attempt' vs Cayetano: 'Wishful thinking'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, July 11, brushed aside his own son's claims that Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano may face a coup challenging his bid for speaker.

Cayetano, a former Duterte Cabinet member and 2016 running mate of the Chief Executive, is Duterte's chosen one  for the speakership.

"Have you heard of wishful thinking?" said Duterte when asked what he thought of Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte's claims of a possible coup.

Asked if he was confident Cayetano had the votes to get elected as speaker, Duterte said, "He will."

Earlier on Thursday, Paolo Duterte hinted that a possible “coup d’etat” may happen on July 22, when the 18th Congress opens session and elects its new leader.

“May election pa sa July 22 at doon ako mas interesado, kung sino ang manalo. Kasi may balita-balita, may isa sa 3 na balak mag coup d’etat on the day. Mukhang ‘di pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang 3 sa mga backers,” said Paolo Duterte in a text message to Inquirer.net

(There is still going to be an election on July 22 and I am more interested on who would become the winner then. Because there are talks that one of the 3 candidates plan to stage a coup d’etat on the day. It seems the fight is not over yet for the backers of the 3.)

His father earlier gave his blessing for Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco to share terms as Speaker. A third leading contender for the post – Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez – had agreed to take on the majority leader job instead. 

But 3 days later, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s endorsement was merely a “suggestion” to House members, who may still opt to vote for whoever they like.

Paolo Duterte and his influential sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte are backing another candidate for Speaker: Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab. 

The Duterte Coalition – the bloc the presidential siblings formed to boost Ungab's bid for the highest post in the House – had so far remained silent on the President's endorsement of the Cayetano-Velasco term-sharing agreement. 

Sara Duterte previously claimed that Cayetano had made a "veiled threat" against her should she decide to support the speakership bid of Velasco.

Of the Duterte allies vying for the highest post in the House, Cayetano is believed to have the weakest support among House members, failing to cultivate personal relationships with congressmen before announcing his bid for Speaker. 

A Rappler source said many lawmakers disliked Cayetano, but were  setting aside their personal feelings to secure key leadership posts they want in the 18th Congress. 

Cayetano has already kicked off a string of meetings with groups of legislators, to whom he promised he would not harbor any grudges over the heated speakership battle. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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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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