Up to lawmakers to choose House Speaker: Panelo
A few days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, Malacanang on Friday reiterated it will be up to lawmakers to decide the House Speaker.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in an ambush interview, made the statement after it was rumored there is support for the Duterte coalition going around the House of Representative.
“The line of president, as what he mentioned again last night, ‘They came to me; they sought my help; I gave them the formula.” So it’s their ball. The ball is in their hand,” Panelo told reporters.
Last July 8, Duterte said there would be a term-sharing deal on the speakership.
This was reached after he met with Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who agreed to be the Speaker during the first 15 months of the 18th Congress and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to assume the post for the remaining 21 months.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez would be the House Majority Leader.
Panelo reiterated that Duterte doesn’t mind whether his chosen lawmaker will be the next speaker.
“The one who will decide is not the president, (but) the members of the House,” he said.
“The premise is, he did not want to interfere, ever since. His help was sought deliberately by them. So obliging them, he gave a formula. So it’s for them,” he added.
And in case that the next speaker is not an ally of the president, Panelo said said Duterte does not have a choice.
“Does he have a choice if one is elected Speaker? I don’t think he has a choice, right? President will never interfere. It’s up to Congress, that’s their job,” said Panelo.
Asked whether the Palace is confident that the incident in the previous State of the Nation Address will not happen again, Panelo said the conflict in the speakership never steals the spotlight from the president.
“It was not taken even if there is ruckus. The president is still the president. He will remain the star,” he said.
The presidential son, Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte, said one of the three aspirants for speakership was planning a coup d'etat when Congress opens on July 22, a news report said.
Last year’s SONA, the president's speech was delayed because of the conflict between then Speaker and Davao Rep, Pantaleon Alvarez and Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The House voted to oust Alvarez as speaker and be replaced by Arroyo but the president was still seen with Alvarez during his speech. Ella Dionisio/DMS