Sara Duterte meets with Velasco
MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco claimed on Sunday that President Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor “Inday” Sara Duterte, has begun calling congressmen to rally support for Velasco in his bid to take over the House speakership from Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as agreed upon 15 months ago.
“Mayor Sara Duterte has endorsed Rep. Lord Velasco as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives anytime this week but without interruption on the budget deliberation,” said Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Leachon, one of Velasco’s chief backers and a member of PDP-Laban party.
Multiple sources told the Inquirer that Velasco’s supporters were poised to try a takeover of the House leadership on Mayor Duterte’s endorsement. A photo of Velasco and the mayor having dinner on Friday was sent to the Inquirer.
But Mayor Duterte said she had “no comment” when asked about her purported move to support Velasco.
The plotters were reportedly going for a coup similar to the one staged by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in July 2018, based on a screenshot of conversations among lawmakers obtained by the Inquirer.
One of the sources sent the Inquirer a Viber screenshot showing 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero, leader of the party list coalition who was stripped of his position as deputy speaker for supporting Velasco, talking about the takeover plan.
“Exact repeat of 2018 scenario, When Mayor Sara called everyone with PRRD (Mr. Duterte)’s full support to oust Bebot Alvarez and install GMA (Arroyo) as Speaker, it only took 1 day and everyone shifted allegiance,” the message attributed to Romero read.
“The Duterte family’s stand: PRRD: honor the term sharing (gentleman’s agreement). It’s the time of Lord. Mayor Sara: rallying everyone for LAV (Velasco) tomorrow (Monday 10 a.m.),” it added.
Leachon said Mayor Duterte “believes that parties to the term-sharing agreement must be gentleman enough to comply.”
But Malacañang reiterated that President Duterte did not want to get involved in House politics and just wanted the House to pass the proposed 2021 national budget, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
But the Speaker’s loyalists warned Velasco’s camp against trying to make their move on Monday when the House would not yet be in session nor during budget deliberations.
“That will be an illegal session,” said Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., who described the alleged coup plot on Monday as a “prelude to them disrupting Tuesday’s session.”
—With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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