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Gordon hits congressmen for seeking Duterte intervention on speakership

/ 11:45 AM July 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Richard Gordon on Wednesday chided House members who called on President Rodrigo Duterte to endorse his bet for speaker, saying this compromised the independence of the lower chamber.

Although he said Duterte’s choice for speaker, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, is his friend, Gordon said the congressmen “reneged” on their  responsibility to use democracy” in electing the best choice for the position.

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“Why do the congressmen ask the President to intervene in their affairs?… Hindi ba dapat independent? There are three branches of government, co-equal branches ‘yan…  that is meant to fine-tune power sharing. Sinasabi natin ayaw natin ng diktadurya eh bakit binibigay nyo ‘yung Speaker sa kanila?” Gordon said during the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

“These are people we elected as our leaders. Why are they reneging on their responsibility to use democracy to get the best of the best?” he lamented.

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In a speech during the oath-taking of newly appointed officials in Malacañang Monday, Duterte said Cayetano would share the three-year term with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco while Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez would be the Majority Leader.

In a separate statement, Malacañang said Cayetano would serve for the first 15 months, while Velasco would take over for the remaining 21 months.

READ: Duterte pushes for Cayetano-Velasco term-sharing for Speaker | Duterte ends speakership squabble

“Who knows?”

Asked if he thinks Duterte’s pronouncement would reflect the result of the election of a speaker on July 22, Gordon said: “With this President, you’ll never know.

“The President has become an expert in what you call it, chameleon, nagpapalit eh. Psywar, magaling eh,” Gordon added, as he also doubted if the proposed term-sharing would eventually materialize.

On Tuesday, Romualdez already accepted the majority leadership, while Velasco has yet to issue an official statement.

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President’s defense

Duterte defended his choice by saying he was just suggesting.

“I’m not really interfering in the work sa legislation. Leaders lang itong pinag-usapan natin, it has nothing to do with the independence of the legislative body. Up to that point, it’s all politics, ganun ‘yan,” the President said.

Article VI, Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution states that the “Senate shall elect its President and the House of Representatives its Speaker, by a majority vote of all its respective Members.”

Each chamber is also mandated to choose the rest of their officers. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)

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