Palace: House can freely elect next Speaker even with Cayetano endorsement
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will let Congressmen freely choose their Speaker on Monday, the opening of the 18th Congress.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement at the height of reports of a possible coup to protest the assumption of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker, whom the President had earlier endorsed.
Duterte ended the squabbling among his House allies on July 8 when he endorsed Cayetano to be the next Speaker. Cayetano will share the term with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Cayetano will serve for 15 months while Velasco will hold the post for 21 months.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who was also vying for the Speaker post, will be the majority floor leader.
“Basta ‘yong line ni Presidente, parang inulit niya nga kagabi, basta “They came to me. They sought my help. I gave them the formula. So, it’s their ball. The ball is in their hands,” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.
Presidential son and Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte earlier said the House speaker race was far from over, saying a coup may happen on July 22 when the 18th Congress opens.
Asked if Cayetano could secure the Speaker post, Panelo said: “Ay hindi natin alam. Ang nagdedecide naman niyan ay di si Presidente, ang members of the House.”
Panelo said Duterte won’t mind if Cayetano, his running mate in the 2016 elections, would not get the Speaker post.
“E di ba sinabi na niya (Duterte), di ba tinanong siya ‘Do you mind?’ ‘I don’t mind.’ Di ba sabi niya,” Panelo said.
Duterte earlier dismissed as wishful thinking the remarks of his son Paolo that a coup might happen at the House on July 22.
“Pwedeng wishful thinking pwede rin naman [hindi]. Kasi basta the premise is he didn’t want to interfere, ever since. His help was sought deliberately by them. So obliging them he gave a formula. So it’s for them,” he said.
Asked if Duterte would accept if Cayetano won’t be elected Speaker, he said, “ does he have a choice if one is elected Speaker? I don’t think he has a choice.”
Whoever will be elected on July 22, Panelo said the “President will not interfere.”
“Basta ang Kongreso trabaho nila ‘yo e. Basta siya hiningi ang tulong niya, binigay niya. O e di nasa kanila na ‘yon,” he added./ac
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