Two swift developments yesterday pointed to a unified candidate for Speaker among supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte despite the absence of his endorsement.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her brother, Rep. Paolo “Polong” Duterte, met with three rivals for Speaker yesterday after Paolo said he is not launching a bid for House leadership and is throwing his support to Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab.
A social media post showed a meeting with the Duterte siblings in Davao City with House leader bets Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Paolo described the meeting in a statement as “cordial, where they discussed the progress of the country.”
The Daily Tribune called Sara for an update she replied “No comment.”
The president’s son said he was throwing his support behind Ungab, the candidate of the newly formed Duterte Coalition spearheaded by Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) and Paolo’s Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HTL).
The Duterte siblings have formed the coalition in the hope of uniting the House amid the vicious battle for the speakership. The coalition invited Romualdez, Cayetano and Velasco to become members.
Romualdez and Velasco agreed but Cayetano has yet to respond to the invitation.
Not the right time
Paolo said he arrived at his decision after he talked with his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in person on Thursday night in Davao City.
“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,” he said.
As HTL president, Paolo said the President has also been fully informed of Ungab’s participation in the race for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
On Friday, Paolo, alongside eight other lawmakers from his party and his sister Sara with members of HnP formed the Duterte Coalition.
“We have created the Duterte Coalition and we wish to invite everyone to join this group of lawmakers who believe in positive change,” the group said.
Initially, the Duterte Coalition said its current membership is composed of Duterte, Ungab, Rep. Vincent Garcia, Rep. Corazon Malanyaon, Rep. Manuel Zamora, Rep. Lorna Bautista, Rep. Claudine Bautista, Rep. Sandro Gonzales and Rep. Anton Lopez.
The coalition also told some Cabinet members, whom it did not name, to not meddle in the House speakership race and to “draw the line” between executive and legislative branches of the government.
Buhay Partylist Representative Lito Atienza, who initially made the revelation, insisted yesterday Cabinet members were meddling in the speakership race despite the denial of Malacañang and the implicated officials.
“It is expected that they will deny it but they went to Malacañang, they talked to the President and they were insisting on a term-sharing scheme,” Atienza said during the weekly Saturday forum at Annabel’s restaurant in Quezon City.
“I have my own sources in Malacañang who is hard to impeach. They should just stop meddling since it is not good that members of the Cabinet intervene in choosing a Speaker,” the lawmaker said.