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'Solidifying of forces?' 

Cayetano, Pulong summon solons before House Speaker poll

/ 04:11 PM July 19, 2019
Cayetano, Pulong summon solons before House Speaker poll

Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte (second from left) and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio met with House speakership candidates in a file photo taken in Davao City. With them are Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (second from right), and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez. (Photo from Hugpong ng Pagbabago)

MANILA, Philippines — Warring camps at the House of Representatives are set to solidify their forces before the scheduled election for the next House Speaker on Monday.

Sources privy to the matter revealed this on Friday, saying the camps of presumptive Speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte invited congressmen to separate meetings in the morning of July 22.

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Cayetano’s gathering was set at 8:30 a.m., while Paolo’s “breakfast” would be at 8:00 a.m., Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor and two other sources, who refused to be named but received both invitations, told INQUIRER.net. 

A source said the gatherings and the manifesto of “unequivocal” support for the “Duterte Coalition” circulating among House members were aimed at “determining [the] numbers” and “solidifying forces” for the leadership battle.

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“Sino ang susundin nila, ang anak ng Presidente o ang incoming Speaker?” the source further asked.

(“Who would the congressmen follow, the President’s son or the incoming Speaker?”)

Defensor, for his part, said he would attend both meetings.

“I’m going to Cong. Pulong’s because I haven’t seen him for quite a time,” the returning lawmaker said in a text message.

Manifesto of support

A manifesto of support for the Coalition is also making the rounds in the chamber.

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“The undersigned members of the 18th Congress, hereby declare their unequivocal support for the vision and objective of the Duterte Coalition for a prosperous, united, free and sovereign Philippines,” reads the copy of manifesto obtained by INQUIRER.net.

“We stand firm on the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his fight against corruption, drugs and crime, the financial stability and over health of our economy and the unparalleled implementation of infrastructure development all over the country. To this we commit to the legislative agenda needed by the Administration to ensure the success of this leadership and the collective welfare of the Filipino nation,” it added.

Paolo and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s local political groups–Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod and Hugpong ng Pagbabago–had formed the “Duterte Coalition,” which fielded Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab as its Speaker bet.

But the President supported the speakership bid of Cayetano. Duterte said Cayetano would share his three-year term with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, with Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez sitting as majority leader. The three accepted this set-up.

Days after, Paolo claimed that the battle for the top House seat is far from over, as a coup would take place on Monday.

“May election pa sa July 22 at doon ako mas interesado, kung sino ang manalo. Kasi may balita balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag coup d’etat on the day. Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers nila,” Paolo told INQUIRER.net, without naming the contender.

(“There is an election for Speaker on July 22, I’m more interested in that. There are rumors that a candidate is planning to stage a coup d’ etat on that day. It appears the speakership race is far from over.”)

READ: Paolo Duterte says speaker race far from over, hints at looming coup

The President, however, shot his son’s claim and branded it as “wishful thinking.” He expressed confidence that Cayetano would get enough votes to win the speakership election at the inaugural opening of the 18th Congress.

READ: Duterte calls looming House coup ‘wishful thinking’

For a party-list lawmaker though, the recent developments have “confused” rather than enlighten them.

“[The situation is] very fluid now, there [is] the children factor. As of now, we are bit confused but just holding the ground,” the representative said. /jpv

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TAGS: Cayetano, House, Local news, Paolo Duterte, Philippine news update, speaker
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