By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has no choice but accept whoever will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives to be elected by lawmakers, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Friday.
Panelo said the President does “not mind” if lawmakers would not support his preferred Speaker Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
He maintained that it was up to the lawmakers to elect their leader, noting that the term-sharing formula in the speakership was a mere suggestion from the President after they sought his guidance.
“Inulit niya nga kagabi [He repeated it last night]. ‘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 said during an interview with reporters at the Palace.
Asked if the President will accept whoever will sit as next House Speaker, Panelo said: “Does he have a choice if one is elected Speaker? I don’t think he has a choice.”
President Duterte had earlier endorsed Cayetano as the next House Speaker for 15 months, while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will serve in the remaining 21 months. The term-sharing arrangement was proposed to break the reported squabbling among administration allies for the top House post.
Asked if the Palace is confident Cayetano will be elected House Speaker, Panelo said: “Hindi natin alam. Ang nagdi-decide naman niyan ay hindi si Presidente, ‘di ba – ang members of the House [We don’t know. It is decided by the members of the House, not the President.”
“He did not 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.