MANILA -- Congressmen are "knowledgeable" enough to choose their leader and need not wait for President Rodrigo Duterte's endorsement for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Should a statement come from Duterte, "maybe" he could just be "expressing a preference," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President could announce his choice to replace Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as early as June 28, or one month before the start of the new Congress, according to a source.
"They should not [wait for the President's endorsement]. They’re supposed to be knowledgeable of the candidates," Panelo said.
"Expressing a preference, I don’t think that’s interference. And the interference would say: 'I want this man to be the Speaker, whether you like it or not.' That’s a different story," Panelo said.
The contenders for the House speaker post have accompanied Duterte in his recent foreign trips: Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez and Taguig City Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano.