Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday bared his choices for the House Speakership: Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano will go first, then Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco wil serve the remaining term.
"It was what was agreed upon," Duterte said in an ambush interview in Malacanang. "Just to do away with the conflict."
Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party and the President's running mate in the 2016 election, agreed to have the first 15 months as House leader, followed by Velasco, from the President's party PDP-Laban, who would sit for 21 months, said Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo. Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez of Lakas-CMD, who is also eyeing the speakership, is the President's choice for Majority Leader.
The agreement, which was made earlier in the day, ends a long-standing impasse between who will lead the chamber.
"The President, to save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation, obliged to the request of the three [Speaker] candidates, who to their credit agree to respect the choice of [Duterte]," Panelo said in a statement.
Representatives will still have to elect their new Speaker once the 18th Congress opens on July 22.
Duterte said he recognizes the independence of Congress.
"I am not interfering in the work sa legislation. Leaders lang itong pinagusapan natin [We're just talking about leadership]. It has nothing to do with the independence of the legislative body. Up to that point, it's all politics," he said.
The post is seen to be influential in the 2022 presidential polls and the follow-through of the Duterte administration's campaign promises.
Cayetano expressed gratitude over President Duterte's decision, and called on the "die-hard Duterte supermajority" in the House of Representatives to support him, as he plans to institutionalize reforms in accordance with the President's campaign promises.
"All members of the House are welcome to join, whatever political or ideological persuasions, for as long as we agree on an agenda for a safe and comfortable life as envisioned by our President," he said.
Cayetano also said he will work on passing bills to amend the Constitution, and file updates on the local government code.
"We hope we can have a real chance at charter change during these 15 months," he said.
Duterte, in his speech earlier, called on the House leader to revise the charter as the current system is prone to graft and corruption.
"We have to change the Constitution. Whether federal or what not," the President said. "If you want to change the Constitution, do it now. 'Andyan pa ako.'"
As for Davao 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, the candidate of the Duterte coalition led by presidential children Sara and Paolo Duterte, Cayetano said it was a unanimous decision in the meeting to put him as chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.