Vote of 266 for Cayetano leaves no doubt about Duterte persuasion
MANILA, Philippines—The outcome of elections for Speaker left no doubt about the persuasive power of President Rodrigo Duterte—266 members of the House of Representatives heeded his choice of Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano’s win further strengthened Duterte’s grip on the chamber which was dominated by members who were not expected to defy his will halfway through a six-year term that saw Duterte gaining a record 80 percent trust rating among the people, according to pollster Social Weather Stations.
Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections, swept the contest with his closest rival, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, getting only 28 votes.
Only one House member voted against Cayetano while another two abstained.
If House rules were to prevail, the losing candidate for Speaker should become minority leader. Abante is also an ally of Duterte.
Results of the elections put to rest talks of a coup earlier floated by the President’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, who has agreed to become deputy speaker for political affairs, according to Cayetano. Paolo’s “Duterte Coalition” was supposed to field Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City’s third district.
Duterte has endorsed the term-sharing of Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, a family friend. The former foreign affairs chief, under Duterte’s formula, would serve as Speaker for the first 15 months and be replaced by Velasco who would serve as House leader in the remaining 21 months.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a leading candidate for Speaker, was elected majority leader, also a powerful House position.
Cayetano’s erstwhile rivals—Velasco and Romualdez—joined Paolo Duterte in nominating the former senator.
‘House of the people’
“The House of Representatives, the House of the people are partners with the Duterte administration. We are partners in pursuing a better life for all Filipinos,” Cayetano said during his speech after taking oath as Speaker.
“We will do what is right so that we will have a Congress that is relevant, responsive and reliable…” he said.
After Romualdez took his oath as majority leader, 11 congressmen were elected deputy Speakers: Representatives Paolo Duterte, Ferdinand Hernandez, Evelina Escudero, Loren Legarda, Conrad Estrella III, Prospero Pichay Jr., Roberto Puno, Eduardo Villanueva, Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Johnny Pimentel, and Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. / TSB
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