Paolo Duterte backs out of speakership race, backs Ungab bid
MANILA, Philippines — Davao City Rep. Paolo “Polong” Duterte on Saturday backed out of the race for the House speakership after consulting his father, President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I have personally spoken [with] President Rodrigo Duterte Thursday night in Davao City regarding my plan to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives. We both agreed that this will not be the right time for me to be Speaker,” Duterte said in a statement.
Bid to unite
The Davao congressman said he would join the speakership fight amid fierce lobbying and jockeying among three of the main candidates, who are all allies of the President.
“The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it. We were all elected by the people anyway,” he said.
The younger Duterte had expressed dismay over reports that two of the candidates, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, have agreed to a term-sharing.
“If it’s term-sharing they want, then let’s all have term-sharing,” the President’s son had said.
But in a statement released on Saturday, the congressman said he agreed to stand down and vowed to help his father’s administration in the next three years “in a different capacity.”
He said he would support the candidacy of fellow Davao City lawmaker and longtime Duterte ally, Rep. Isidro Ungab, to be the next Speaker.
Polong said his local political party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod—like its “sister” party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP)—had already chosen to support Ungab.
Deal with other candidates
With Ungab as Speaker, the HNP suggested that Cayetano become majority leader, Velasco as chair of the House appropriations committee, and the third contender, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, as head of the accounts committee.
Duterte said the President had been “fully informed” of Ungab joining the speakership contest. He did not say, however, if Ungab had the Chief Executive’s support.
President Duterte has earlier declared he will not endorse anyone to avoid hurting his allies.