Speakership fight far from over; Pulong smells ‘coup’ vs Cayetano | Malaya Business Insight

Vigilia, W. (2019, July 12). Speakership fight far from over; Pulong smells ‘coup’ vs Cayetano. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 12, 2019 from https://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/speakership-fight-far-over-pulong-smells-%E2%80%98coup%E2%80%99-vs-cayetano

Speakership fight far from over; Pulong smells ‘coup’ vs Cayetano
By WENDELL VIGILIA – July 12, 2019

EXPECT fireworks on the 22nd.

Presidential son Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte yesterday warned of a “coup” when the 18th Congress opens session on July 22, saying a lawmaker may defy President Duterte’s decision to pick Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Cayetano as the speaker.

The younger Duterte said one of the speakership contenders may stage a coup on the day that congressmen will vote for the next speaker.

“May balita-balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag coup d’etat on the day. Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers nila. (I’ve heard that one of the three contenders is planning a coup d’etat on the day. It seems that the fight is not yet over for the three of them and their backers),” he told a reporter in a text message.

The three candidates that Paolo was referring to are Cayetano and Reps. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, who has already conceded and accepted the President’s offer for him to be the majority leader.

But President Duterte dismissed as “wishful thinking” reports that Cayetano faces the specter of a coup.

“Have you heard of wishful thinking?” the President said in a chance interview during the GOCC Day in Malacanang.

Duterte expressed confidence that Cayetano would get the votes he needs despite reports quoting presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte that some sectors are unhappy with the President’s decision and may even reject his suggestion.

Under the term-sharing agreement approved by the President, Cayetano will be speaker for the first 15 months while Velasco will serve for the next 21 months.

Paolo and his sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, are at loggerheads with some members of the cabinet who reportedly pressured her father to pick Cayetano on the belief that they will be able to protect their interests in the annual national budget that is annually reviewed and approved by the House.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza earlier said this clique in the cabinet wants to protect their insertions in the budget, a practice that was unearthed in the 17th Congress under Arroyo.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has denied meddling in the speakership race after his name was dragged into the controversy last week, along with Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, among others.

Sara has endorsed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab for speaker and proposed that Cayetano be the majority leader.

Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles yesterday denied reports that some members of the Duterte Cabinet are at odds with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte over the speakership issue.

“Not true,” Nograles said in reaction to reports that the presidential daughter was at loggerheads with some Cabinet members.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor had claimed that someone “very close” to Mayor Duterte texted him a statement, supposedly coming from her, asking lawmakers to vote according to their conscience in the speakership race.

Paolo would not say if he is eyeing the chairmanship of the committee on legislative franchises, saying it’s too early to talk about it when the speakership race is not yet over.

Before the GOCC event, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said members of the House of Representatives are free to choose whomever they want for speaker even if it is the against the choice of the President.

Panelo said Duterte only made a suggestion after lawmakers persuaded him to finally endorse someone. He added that whatever the outcome of (the) actual speakership race is “not a reflection of the clout of the President” over Congress.

“The President didn’t want to interfere in the first place. He didn’t want to intrude. It’s them who somehow persuaded him to come in,” he said.


Cayetano, in a meeting with a group of congressmen who are mostly allied with Romualdez last Wednesday night, apologized to lawmakers for the divisive race and rallied support for Duterte’s priority legislative measures.

“Fifteen months is very short, I don’t want to leave that I will have more enemies than friends,” he told the congressmen in the presence of Romualdez. “So, if I have offended some of you, I’m sorry, forgive me. It happened because of the campaign and if anyone has offended me, let’s set it aside and discuss it some other time.”

“Believe me, I’ll not harness any ill feelings. I’m also human, of course, there are things that I have (to do) but I look at everyone like a father looks at his child or an older brother to the younger brother,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano, a returning congressman who is a former senator and foreign affairs secretary, said he has been hoping for the speakership race to end much earlier because “a House divided will fall.”

“But Martin, and even if Cong. Velasco is not here with us, thank you very much, that after the President gave marching orders, all of us are marching to the same tune,” he said.

Cayetano asked lawmakers to support the President’s legislative agenda “with (the) same passion that (you did) to fight for you speakership candidate in the last two months.”


The Taguig-Pateros lawmaker said he wants neophyte lawmakers to be given committee vice chairmanships to help train them in the legislative work.

In that way, Cayetano said the House leadership can open up vice chairmanships to “freshmen and women.”

“And we can actually give them a head start and mentor them because once upon a time we were also new (in Congress), for better or for worse,” he said.

Cayetano said that since neophyte lawmakers are traditionally not entitled to committee chairmanships and even vice chairmanships, he would try to find a “win-win” solution to accommodate them.

He appealed to congressmen who will be given chairmanship posts not to ask for too many vice chairmanships.

“Let’s try to make it a win-win, meaning that if you get your first or second choice (of committees to chair), maybe I can appeal to you not to ask for too many vice chairmanships anymore. Maybe just one or two. Now if you don’t get your first of second choice, then get a good committee (membership) and maybe four vice chairmanships or if you don’t get a chairmanship, a very good senior vice chairmanship,” he said.


President Duterte’s controversial endorsement of Cayetano to be House Speaker is not an assurance that members of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan would vote for him, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said.

In a press briefing yesterday, Pimentel said Cayetano, a member of the Nacionalista Party, would still have to convince PDP-Laban members to vote for him in a negotiation meeting set last night.

“Advantage siya ngayon (He has the advantage) with the statement of the President. Suwerte nga niya (He’s actually really lucky),” Pimentel said. “He has the advantage, not an assurance; he still has to work for it.”

The senator maintained that his former colleague “cannot sit as House Speaker without the support of PDP-Laban.”

Pimentel said that everything would need to be put in writing during the meeting with PDP-Laban members, so Cayetano would be assured of their commitment during the formal voting in the House of Representatives’ first session on July 22.

Among the concessions PDP-Laban wants from Cayetano are “proportional representation” in terms of committee chairmanships in the House.

“‘Yung senior members bigyan ng senior positions (The senior members should be given the senior positions). The committees should allow us to pursue our agenda,” Pimentel said.

“In the true spirit of negotiation, dapat (it should be) give and take. Ang laki ng take niya (His take is too big), House speakership,” he said.

Otherwise, Pimentel said that a coup in the House leadership—a scenario in which Duterte’s endorsed scheme would be disregarded by the House members—would be “always a possibility.”

“Ang mga coup, hindi ina-announce. Ewan ko kung mayroong announced coup (Coup are not announced. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an announced coup),” he said. – With Vince Nonato and Jocelyn montemayor

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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