By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The battle for House speakership is not yet over.
Well-placed sources said around 200 lawmakers from various political parties and influential blocs have confirmed their attendance to the breakfast meeting initiated by presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte on July 22, Monday.
The breakfast meeting was set for 8 a.m. on July 22.
“The Davao group has other plans. The speakership issue is not yet over,” the source said.
The source said that when Rep. Duterte learned about the 8:30 a.m. meeting organized by presumptive Speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, he immediately organized a separate gathering.
Cayetano’s meeting with the lawmakers will be held at the Nograles Hall of the House of Representatives South Wing Annex.
Traditionally, the breakfast meeting of the lawmakers is held at the South Lounge, which is beside the plenary session hall.
“Nung nalaman ni Cong. Pulong na pinasara ang South Lounge and that the Cayetano meeting will be held at the Nograles Hall, nag-invite siya kahapon sa mga congressmen (When Cong. Pulong learned about the closure of South Lounge and Cayetano was scheduled to hold his breakfast meeting with lawmakers at the Nograles Hall, the Davao City solon invited congressmen to his own breakfast meeting),” the source said.
“Tatapatan nila ang meeting ni Rep. Cayetano. Around 200 lawmakers confirmed attendance to Cong. Pulong’s meeting,” the source said.
Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, who admittedly received both invitations, confirmed that as of the moment, a total of 180 lawmakers gave in to Rep. Duterte’s invitation and the number is expected to increase.
“One-hundred-eighty and adding up, baka more than pa 200 yan,” he said in a text message.
Another source said the camp of Cayetano decided to move the breakfast meeting to 8 a.m. upon knowing that Rep. Duterte organized a gathering.
“Cayetano’s possible speakership will likely be challenged on Monday,” the source, without divulging any details.
The election of the next House speaker is set on the morning of July 22 during the opening of the session of the 18th Congress. It will be the same day that President Duterte will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In a Facebook post , Cayetano disclosed Friday that Rep. Duterte has already agreed to become the Deputy Speaker for Political Affairs.
The Davao City congressman had earlier warned Cayetano could face a “coup” as well as saying the speakership race is not yet over.
President Duterte had earlier endorsed Cayetano as Speaker for the first 15 months, while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of the ruling PDP-Laban party would assume the fourth highest post in the land for the last 21 months of the 18th Congress.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, another contender for speaker, was named as the House Majority Leader. They all gave in to President’s decision.
Before the President’s endorsement, the Duterte siblings endorsed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as their bet for Speaker.
On Friday, however, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte has no choice but accept whoever will be the next speaker of the House of Representatives to be elected by lawmakers.
Panelo said the President does “not mind” if lawmakers would not support his preferred Speaker, Rep. 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.