Palace: No Duterte role in speakership fight
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will remain resolute in his decision not to meddle in the selection of the incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, even if his son, Davao City first district Rep. Paolo Duterte, has withdrawn from the race.
Malacañang gave this assurance a day after the younger Duterte backed out of his plan to seek the position of House Speaker after talking it over with his father.
While presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he was not privy to the details of the conversation between father and son, the President was firm in his policy of noninterference.
Paolo will no longer run
“I’m not aware of that, that’s between the son and the father. But what is clear is that he [Paolo] will no longer run,” Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ.
He added: “The President’s decision has not changed at all. He will not interfere in the selection [of the House Speaker] in Congress.”
Paolo has thrown his support behind Davao City third district Rep. Isidro Ungab, who was previously endorsed by the regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago led by Paolo’s sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The other top contenders for the position of House Speaker are Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
On Saturday, the Duterte siblings sat down for a “cordial” meeting with the three top contenders in Davao City.
Asked if Paolo’s withdrawal from the race meant that the President would no longer make good on his promise to resign, Panelo said: “That’s what I’ve been always saying in press briefings. When circumstances change, you change your stand.”
Although the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan has endorsed Velasco’s bid, the President has repeatedly stressed that he would not endorse anyone for the top position in the House.
Mr. Duterte said he wanted to be spared the heartache of having to choose among his friends and allies.
The new Speaker will be elected on July 22 when the 18th Congress opens. The President will also deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on that day.
Final Sona preparations
Meanwhile, the Palace said final preparations were being made for the President’s key address to the joint session of the 18th Congress, noting that there were upcoming forums to be held in Cebu and Davao prior to the event.
“He will likely announce what he has done and he will also announce what he plans to do,” Panelo said.
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