MANILA - Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Friday denied a lawmaker's accusation that he "egged or urged" President Rodrigo Duterte to back a term-sharing agreement among contenders for the speakership in the House of Representatives.
Dominguez earlier said that the Department of Finance "does not interfere with the internal affairs of the legislative branch," but Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza insisted that this does not mean that the Secretary was not involved in politicking within the chamber.
"Out of respect for the President, I have never egged or urged the President on any matter since the start of this Administration," Dominguez told ABS-CBN News.
"[I] do not intend to start now," he said.
The allegations stemmed from Atienza's claim that the Finance chief urged Duterte over the weekend to support Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano's speakership bid through a term-sharing scheme.
Duterte's PDP-Laban earlier endorsed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco as speaker, sans a term-sharing agreement, leaving Duterte's defeated 2016 running mate at a disadvantage.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago is, meanwhile, backing Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab's speakership bid.
Ungab's allies from Davao, including the President's son Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, also issued a statement telling Cabinet members to keep their "hands off" the speakership race.
The group, which identified itself as the "Duterte Coalition," did not mention names of particular Cabinet members.
"It has come to our attention that certain Presidential Cabinet members have their bet for Speaker. Everyone should note that, Cabinet members serve only on the basis of the trust and confidence of the President and should not participate in the selection of the Speaker," the coalition said in a statement.
"Let us draw the line to define the independence of the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government," it said.