Duterte asks to spare him from choosing incoming Speaker
President Rodrigo Duterte maintained on Tuesday that he would not endorse any nominee for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In a speech in Malacañang during the oath taking of administration allied congressmen, Duterte said he asked former President and outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to choose her successor.
But he said Arroyo also declined to select the next Speaker, prompting Duterte to say in jest, "tell her, if she does not want to choose, I'll send her to jail again."
After she stepped down as president in 2010, Arroyo was placed under hospital arrest due to strings of plunder and graft charges filed against her. But the cases were dismissed.
At least four newly-elected congressmen have expressed interest to be the Speaker in the 18th Congress, which will start in July.
Those vying for the speakership are Taguig City Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
"Don't give the problem to me. For as long as Filipino, it's okay with me...don't drag me...you talk among yourselves. It's up to you," Duterte said of what he told the lawmakers.
"As I've said, you can ask anybody. You can ask each other, even the military," he said.
Duterte reiterated that he did not want to interfere with Congress.
"I have not interfered," he said, citing that even in the passage of the 2019 budget, he did not meddle.
"I submitted the budget (to the House)...you never heard me complain. I can work with budget that you passed with finality and there is a shortcoming with this budget," he said.
At least for the first few months of this year, the government worked under a re-enacted budget due to failure of the Senate and the House to immediately resolve their differences, thus, delaying the approval of the P3.757-trillion budget. Celerina Monte/DMS