MANILA - (3rd UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday endorsed Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
Cayetano will be sharing his term with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, while Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez will be the Majority leader, said Duterte.
"I’m sorry, I’m quite late. I was talking to three people. I think it’s about time I talk. So, your Speaker will be Alan Peter Cayetano. Ang sharing dito is he shares the term with Lord Velasco. And si Romualdez will be the Majority Floor Leader," Duterte said in a speech at the Malacañang Palace.
"I tried to distance myself from the... But apparently I said it’s time that I talk. So, ganun ho ang ano -- that’s the set-up," he added.
Duterte also said he decided to speak up about the issue because it has been creating "so much uncertainty."
"It's time for me to talk. I do not have to elaborate. Pumunta sila dito, ipinatawag ko. Stop, I will now talk. I do not enjoy it. I avoided it. Nakita mo naman, it's creating so much uncertainty. I'll now talk. So, pinuwesto ko na," he said.
Cayetano, in a video addressing his Facebook followers, thanked Duterte for his announcement.
"We prayed to the Lord to give the president good health and wisdom...we thank him for the announcement that he has made," he said.
Cayetano also offered his victory to the Lord and even quoted a Bible verse.
"Para sa ating Panginoon, para sa ating bayan, let's all work together and let's not make it about politicians, about ourselves, about the Duterte administration, something that will uplift ang kabuhayan ng bawat Pilipino," Cayetano added.
Cayetano, likewise, urged his fellow lawmakers to unite.
"Sa lahat ng congressman, please join the the Die-hard Duterte Super Majority-- the DDSM-- has come to town. We're going to show that it's not only the president ang pwedeng magkaroon ng political will kundi po pati ang ating House of Representatives," he added.
Despite Duterte's endorsement, it will still be up to the members of the House of Representatives to vote for its next speaker.
Cayetano earlier claimed he had agreed to serve as Speaker for 15 months and be succeeded by Velasco for 21 months, but that the latter supposedly backed out at "the last minute."
Last week, Cayetano said he was supposed to serve as Speaker first before Velasco because as a former senator, he had a better working relationship with the upper chamber of Congress, which is needed to push the President's legislative agenda.
He said Velasco's wife Wen last Monday "agreed in principle" to the term-sharing but asked for "a few days."
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte voiced out his opinions to "save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation."
"Since the election of the Speaker has resulted in a bitter and fractious rivalry that threatens the break-up of political allies, the President, to save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation, obliged to the request of the three candidates, who to their credit agree to respect the choice of PRRD," Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo also confirmed Cayetano will be serving as House Speaker for the first 15 months, to be succeeded by Velasco in the next 21 months.
Meanwhile, Duterte's party PDP Laban said it will hold a meeting to discuss the President's decision, but emphasized they respect it.
"We fully respect the decision and wisdom of our Party Chairman President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte. The PDP Laban is still the majority party in Congress and will rigorously push for the legislative agenda President Duterte," the statement said.
Cayetano is a member of the Nacionalista Party, and PDP Laban had endorsed Velasco as the next House Speaker.
The Speakership race had been hotly contested since former Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ended her term in June.