Palace leaves it to lawmakers to pick speaker amid reports of House ‘coup’

MANILA, Philippines — It is up to the members of the House of Representatives to elect its own leaders, Malacañang said in response to reports that there might be a move to reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s choice for House speakers.

According to media reports, Rep. Paolo Duterte (Davao City) hinted that the power struggle at the lower house is not yet over as one of the contenders for speaker is planning to reject the chief executive’s endorsement of Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros), the president’s 2016 running mate and recently his Foreign Affairs secretary.

“May balita balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag-coup d’ etat on that day. Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers nila,” the younger Duterte was quoted in reports as saying.

(There are rumors that one of the three candidates is planning to stage coup d’ etat on the day. It appears the battle among the three and their backers is far from over.)

The lower house will elect its speaker when the 18th Congress convenes on July 22.

Palace: President’s pick just a ‘wise suggestion’

In a press briefing Thursday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it is the members of the House who will decide on their next speaker.

“In the ultimate analysis, the vote on the speaker would lie on members of Congress. The only reason why the president gave the suggestion is those vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestion to settle the row between and among them,” Panelo said.

He added: “Di naman siya nagkukumpas, siya ang nilapitan. Kayo ang lumapit sa akin, eh di pinagbigyan ko kayo. Nasa kanila na ‘yun.”

(He’s not interfering. They approached him so they granted their request. It’s up to them.)

Panelo added that if the proposed term-sharing does not happen, it would reflect the choice of House members and would not have anything to do with President Duterte’s clout with Congress.

The president on Monday announced his endorsement of a term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as House speakers. Under the agreement, Cayetano will be the speaker for the first 15th months, then Velasco will lead the chamber for the next 21 months.

Duterte also endorsed Rep. Martin Romualdez (Leyte) for the position of majority leader.

The chief executive said he had to step in to end the squabbling among his allies. — This story was first published on Philstar.com

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