PRESIDENTIAL son and Deputy Speaker Paolo “Pulong” Duterte of Davao City has decided to stay neutral on the speakership row amid reports that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has been working very hard to win his support to take control of the House leadership from Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“As I am all for a unified House, and given the value I place in every member of Congress, I refuse to make any statement that will favor or damage either of my two good friends who are both asserting their right to be our Speaker,” Duterte said in his statement that was seen as another blow to generate support for Velasco.
Sources said Duterte’s statement was posted by ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, a close friend of the presidential son, in one of the House members’ Viber threads on Wednesday night.
Duterte said he decided not to pick any from Velasco and Cayetano because both are his friends.
“For a year and a half, I have formed many friendships in the 18th Congress. Of these, two of those that I treasure most are those with Speaker Alan Cayetano and Congressman Lord Velasco,” said Duterte.
“Due to this issue on the term-sharing agreement, Congress is currently mired in what seems to be a battle between two people I’m close with. I am saddened that it has come to this —a House divided. And if we remain a House divided, we will fail in our mandate to serve the people as their representatives,” Duterte said.
While Velasco can insist the term-sharing agreement, Duterte said Cayetano has the support of majority of lawmakers.
“It can’t be denied that such a term-sharing agreement was made before. Because of this, Congressman Velasco has the right to assert his claim to the Speakership. However, we have also seen that a considerable number of our colleagues still support Speaker Cayetano,” said Duterte.
He also appealed to his colleagues to respect whatever decision that the majority of lawmakers will make at proper time in choosing its leader.
“If and when the day comes that we are called to select the leader of this House, I hope we vote for someone who is committed, who understands what we want to achieve for our constituents, and who can fight for and with us, and unify the 300 members of this House of Representatives despite our many differences. And when we do make that decision, I hope we can find it in our hearts to vote for someone, not just for convenience or affiliation, but whom we feel strongly can represent the House with the dignity that it deserves,” Duterte said.
“And whatever may be the result of this, I humbly ask my colleagues to remain respectful to one another, and support whoever is the Speaker. At the end of this episode, I hope we can go beyond politics and remember that more than power, it is the relationships we’ve formed in these halls of Congress and our duties to the people, that matter most,” Duterte added.