MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is firm in distancing himself from the race for the leadership of the House of Representatives, asserting separation of powers.
Duterte, who is in Japan for a 4-day working visit, met with lawmakers Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, incoming Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, and incoming Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, all of whom are vying for the House Speaker post.
"Sa ngayon, sabi niya kagabi ayaw niya talagang makialam, lahat naman po sila ay equally competent naman po na mambabatas na magagaling, pareho silang mga abogado," Senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, former Special Assistant to the President, told reporters Thursday.
(The President said last night that he won't meddle in the affairs of the House since all of the lawmakers are competent and are lawyers.)
"Ayaw niya (Duterte) sanang makialam kaya lang gusto naman ng tatlo na sana ang Pangulo po ang pumili. Subalit sabi ni Pangulo, 'Magkaiba tayo. Separate branch of government.' Ayaw niyang makialam," Go said.
(Duterte doesn't want to get involved but the 3 lawmakers want him to choose. The President insisted that they belong to separate branches of government. He did not want to meddle.)
The President told the 3 lawmakers that he would respect whoever members of the House choose as their next leader, Go said.
Go noted that Duterte's meeting with the 3 lawmakers on Thursday night was unplanned.
"Kanya-kanya po silang tabi kay Pangulo. So sabi ni Pangulo, 'Tara, mag-usap na lang tayo sandali'," Go said.
(They approached the President on their own so the President invited them to talk for a while.)
Among the 3 lawmakers who met with the President, it is Velasco who has the backing of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was reportedly instrumental in the ouster of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as speaker in 2018.
Alvarez has also signified interest in regaining the speakership post.
-report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News