By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte merely made a “wise suggestion” on the next House Speaker and will still leave to lawmakers to make the “ultimate” decision, Malacañang said Thursday amid reports of the unresolved leadership scuffle.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President initially did not want to interfere in the selection of the Speaker but was only “persuaded” by the lawmakers vying for the top House post.
“In the ultimate analysis, the vote on the speaker would lie on the members of Congress,” Panelo said in a news conference at the Palace.
“The only reason why the President gave that suggestion is because those vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestion to settle the row between and among them,” he said.
Panelo made the remarks after Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte disclosed the speakership race seemed far from over despite President Duterte’s intervention to split the term between two aspirants. The President’s son, who backed out from the speakership battle, claimed that there were rumors that one of the three aspirants might launch a coup when the 18th Congress opens on July 22.
After initially telling lawmakers to sort out the speakership among themselves, the President has endorsed Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as the House Speaker for the next 15 months, followed by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for 21 months. The term-sharing arrangement was proposed by the President to settle the conflict among allies vying for the post.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, another aspirant for the top post, will serve as House Majority Leader, according to the President.
Asked if the lawmakers won’t follow the President’s Speaker choice, Panelo maintained that it was up to the members of Congress to pick their leader.
“Aba, eh hindi naman siya actually, hindi naman siya nagku-kumpas, siya ang pinapa—hindi ba siya ang nilapitan eh. Eh kayo ang lumapit sa akin, sabi n’yo payag kayo, oh di sige pinagbigyan ko kayo. Nasa sa kanila iyon [He is not actually the one ordering them. They came to him. He said, ‘since you approached me and you said you’re in agreement, okay I will grant your request.’ So that’s really up to them],” he said.
If Cayetano fails to get the Speaker post, Panelo said this was “not a reflection of the clout of the President.”
“The President didn’t want to interfere in the first [place], didn’t wanna intrude. It’s them who somehow persuaded him to come in,” he said.