MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he will no longer endorse a candidate for the speakership of the House of Representatives.
Speaking to new lawmakers, Duterte said he asked outgoing Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to spare him the trouble of choosing her successor.
“Si ma’am na lang to spare me the agony of choosing kasi kaibigan ko silang lahat, kaya ayaw kong magsama sila ng loob,” Duterte said in his speech.
(I told her to decide to spare me the agony of choosing because they're all my friends, I don't want them to resent me.)
The President joked that he even "threatened" to send Arroyo to jail should she refuse him.
"At hindi ako nagbibiro. Tinawag ko 'yung mga guwardiya. 'Akin na 'yang posas ninyo.' Sabi ko ipatikim ko ito ulit ng... Sabi niya, 'Rody, huwag mo naman ako isali diyan kay pareho na lang tayo,'" he said.
(I wasn't joking, I called the guards, 'Give me your handcuffs.' I said I will let her experience again...She said 'Rody, don't involve me there, we're the same.)
But should Arroyo decline, Duterte said the congressmen would have to sort the issue of the House Speakership out among themselves.
"Sila na lang. Kayo na lang. Ako ang susunod sa inyo. Bakit ilagay ninyo sa akin 'yang problema? Maski sinong Speaker diyan, kumportable man ako. Basta Pilipino lang, okay lang sa akin," he said.
(You decide. I will follow you. Why would you give me the problem? Doesn't matter who becomes Speaker, as long as they're Filipino I'm comfortable.)
Those vying for the speakership are Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, and Taguig Pateros Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano.