In an untypical meeting, Duterte Coalition leaders Rep. Paolo Duterte and his sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio met up with candidates for House Speaker—Rep. Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, and Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig—in Davao City on Saturday.
READ: 8 aspire for Speaker post
The Coalition’s previously endorsed bet, Davao City’s Rep. Isidro Ungab, was starkly absent during the meeting and there was no explanation for his non-appearance.
There were no sweeping details about the unprecedented weekend meeting, 16 days to the day President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address before the joint session of Congress.
But Rep. Duterte, who formed the Coalition with his sister and eight other Davaoeño lawmakers to unite the House of Representatives, said in general terms the meeting was cordial, where they discussed the progress of the country.
Earlier, Rep. Duterte said he was no longer running for speakership and would just support the speakership bid of Ungab who was being pushed by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago as its candidate to assume the highest top post.
“I have personally spoken to President Rodrigo Duterte Thursday night in Davao City regarding my plan to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives. We both agreed that this will not be the right time for me to be Speaker and I can still help his administration from the House in a different capacity,” Duterte said in a statement.
READ: Romualdez backs Duterte coalition for a unified house
“As president of Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, I will support the bid for speakership of Congressman Isidro Ungab from our sister party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago,” he added. But there was no explanation from him why Ungab was absent at the meeting.
Duterte also said in his statement released to media that “The President has also been fully informed of Rep. Ungab’s participation in the race for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Duterte said he organized the Coalition to resist the meddling of Cabinet members in the choice for the next Speaker.
Velasco is supported by ruling PDP-Laban, while Cayetano’s bid was allegedly backed by several Cabinet members. Romualdez is a long-time ally of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Cayetano is a senior member of the Villar-controlled Nacionalista Party, the third largest voting bloc in the House (42 members) next to PDP-Laban (86 members) and the party-list coalition (55 members). With Maricel V. CruzREAD: Speakership brawl looms
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