Cabinet not meddling in heated race for Speaker – Panelo
MANILA, Philippines—Reports that members of the Duterte Cabinet are meddling in the hotly contested race for Speaker are “certainly not true,” Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, in a radio interview Friday, accused Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez of urging President Rodrigo Duterte to back a term-sharing agreement among contenders for the Speaker in the House of Representatives.
“You know, the President already made a stand on the Speaker role. Hence, it behooves the members of the Cabinet to toe the line. That is the position of the President,” Panelo told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.
Duterte has vowed to keep his hands off the Speaker race as all the frontrunners are his allies and friends.
“Ang suggestion ko ganito. ‘Yan lang naman puro tayo magkaibigan dito, huwag na lang tao mag-away. I will not help anybody. Maglabo-labo na lang kayo,” Duterte said in an interview last week.
Duterte said he had apologized to the three contenders for failing to come up with a decision.
“I am sorry, I am very sorry I could not be of help,” he said.
Top contenders for the Speaker include Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Rep.Martin Romualdez, and Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who was Duterte’s defeated running mate in the 2016 presidential elections.
Lawmakers will elect the next Speaker during the opening of the session of the 18th Congress on July 22, before Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address./ac
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