President Duterte told Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco that “he has the right” to run for House Speaker during their meeting Monday night, Malacanang bared on Tuesday.
The President made the statement after Velasco asked for his consent to seek the House leadership, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
“I cannot give you more details other than, humingi po ng permiso si Congressman Lord Allan para tumakbo bilang Speaker at ang sagot po ng Presidente, ‘Karapatan mo ‘yan sang-ayon sa kasunduan ninyo ni kay Speaker Alan Cayetano’ (I cannot give you more details other than Congressman Lord Allan Velasco asked permission to run for Speaker and the President replied, ‘That’s your right based on your agreement with Speaker Alan Cayetano’),” Roque said during a Palace press briefing Tuesday.
Roque confirmed that it was Velasco who sought a meeting with the President. The President agreed to talk with the lawmaker after his meeting with some Cabinet members and public address. He said the meeting between the President and Velasco began at around 10 p.m. Monday.
Asked if the President’s statement is considered his blessing to Velasco to pursue the term-sharing deal, Roque declined to comment.
“I will refrain from annotating what has been said,” Roque said. “I think people can make their own conclusions,” he added.
Velasco is supposed to split the term of the House leadership with House Speaker Alan Cayetano under a deal brokered by the President. Cayetano will serve for 15 months while Velasco takes over to lead the House for the remaining 21 months.
Cayetano recently made a sudden offer to resign ahead of the supposed October 14 turnover, a day after they were reminded by the President to honor the term-sharing deal. Majority of lawmakers later voted to keep him in his post.
The Palace said the President has decided to stay out of the House leadership conflict, insisting it is an internal matter of the Lower House.