The President’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, said Tuesday he would join the race to be Speaker of the House to unify Congress, but said he wanted the post shared by representatives of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, as well as party-list members.
Duterte, a neophyte congressman, said he decided to put his hat in the ring after a persistent talk by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of sharing the term with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
All three are from the ruling PDP-Laban headed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it,” said the younger Duterte, who had previously resigned as Davao City vice mayor because of allegations of corruption. “We were all elected by the people. If the set-up is term-sharing then we should all have term-sharing.”
He said he would propose that the fourth highest government post be shared by representatives from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and party-list groups, but did not say how such an arrangement would work.
“I will ask the Visayas bloc to elect their Speaker for their term share, and so with the Mindanao bloc and the party-list coalition,” he said.
“We are not talking about two persons here. We are talking about our beloved country. It is not about speakership alone, but who is the right person to unite Congress and I hope those running for the speakership stop influencing the Cabinet,” he added.
PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, however, said the ruling party cannot support the speakership bid of the presidential son.
“For as long as there are PDP-Laban members aspiring to be House Speaker and they are well qualified to be one, then PDP-Laban members should and must consider first supporting their party-mate,” Pimentel said.
Paolo Duterte is not a member of the PDP-Laban, which is fielding Velasco as its candidate for the House top post.
PDP-Laban spokesman Ron Munsayac said the ruling party will meet today (July 3) over Duterte’s unexpected announcement.
“Rest assured that the ruling party, the party of the President, the PDP-Laban, will move as one,” Munsayac said.
Duterte earlier said he was not interested in the post of Speaker, and his father, President Duterte, had said he would resign if his son sought to become Speaker.
Aside from Cayetano and Velasco, also gunning for the top post in the House are Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales.
Gonzales said no member of the House would dare contest the speakership against the younger Duterte. He also said those who supported Velasco would shift their support to Paolo Duterte.
The President on Thursday said Cayetano had agreed to serve as the leader of the House of Representatives for 15 months and be succeeded by Velasco for 21 months.
But Velasco backed out of the deal at the “last minute,” the President said.
Senator Christopher Go, the President’s former top aide, said he believed Duterte would keep his promise to resign if his son Paolo would join the speakership race.
His view was in contrast to that of Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, who said the President could change his mind.
Go insisted, however, that he is in a better position to know the President, having been his personal aide for the last 21 years.
“He will stick to what he said, and make good his promise,” Go said.
In May, the President refused to have a hand in choosing the next Speaker and said he would quit if his son Paolo sought the position too.
“This Paolo, let me tell him. If you run for speakership, let me know. Because if you run, I will resign,” President Duterte said.
“If he insists on running, if he believes in his advisers, go ahead.
Let me know three days in advance before you make the announcement and I will tender my resignation,” he continued.
The President said if Paolo would become the Speaker, it “wouldn’t look good” for his family.
“The (Davao City) vice mayor [is] my youngest son Baste, and Pulong as speaker, me as President, it wouldn’t look good,” said Duterte, referring to his other son Sebastian by his nickname.
The President’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio is also mayor of Davao City.
Asked about the President’s earlier threat, Panelo said anything could happen.
“The President can change his mind. Congressman Paolo can also change his mind. So, let’s see. Let it evolve,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“As I’ve told you, you make a position, you make a stand on the basis of circumstances. When those circumstances change, you also change your stand. So, it can be changed,” he added.
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