MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte’s eldest son House Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte has been adopted by the National Unity Party along with one of his close allies in the Lower House amid the reorganization of the House of Representatives.
NUP stalwart and House Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno (Antipolo), brother of NUP Chairman Ronaldo Puno, told ABS-CBN News in a text message that ”Cong. Paolo Duterte is adopted (by the) NUP.”
Puno, however, explained Duterte will not take his oath as an NUP party member.
“Adopted lang. He remains with his party Hugpong.”
Comelec records show that Duterte ran and won as representative of Davao City’s first district under the Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HTL).
He is also a member of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party chaired by his sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Both parties are not registered as national political parties under the Commission on Elections. Duterte is HTL’s only congressman, while HNP only has three.
On Thursday night, Puno also confirmed to ABS-CBN News that NUP also adopted Marino Party List Rep. Sandro Gonzales, Dumper Party List Rep. Claudine Bautista and AKO BISAYA Rep. Sonny Lagon.
NUP's confirmation of the younger Duterte's adoption into the party came a few days after the President joked about his eldest son changing parties.
Saying his daughter Sara, the mayor, and Sebastian, the Davao City Vice Mayor, were "OK," the President said Paolo should just join the New People's Army.
“Inday is OK, si Sebastian. Si Pulong, hindi ko na nakikita. Papalit-palit ng partido. Mag-NPA na lang siya, mas mabuti pa,” he said.
(Sara is OK, as well as Sebastian. I no longer see Paolo. He keeps on changing parties. He should just join the NPA.)
OTHER NEW NUP MEMBERS
On Wednesday night, ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Nina Taduran announced to House media that they, too, have been adopted by the NUP.
Its first nominee, Eric Go Yap, reportedly a close ally of Deputy Speaker Duterte, was elected as the chairman of the House Games and Amusements Committee.
Taduran explained: “This will help the party-list to widen its affiliation in achieving the national goal towards a progressive nation. However, ACT-CIS Party-list will remain its membership to PCFI as it is committed in attaining its national economic objectives of the administration. ACT-CIS Party-list is bound to deliver its commitment to the Filipino people specifically those who believe in our capacity to provide better public service.”
Puno also identified two other lawmakers who joined the NUP: Parañaque Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting and San Jose del Monte Rep. Florida Robes.
Marino, Dumper, AKO BISAYA, and ACT CIS were regularly spotted joining the Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign caravan for the May 2019 elections.
Gonzales and Bautista are also members of the Duterte coalition.
Data from the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed that of the 241 district representatives, 82 ran under the administration party PDP-Laban. Forty- two ran under the Nacionalista Party (NP), 36 under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and 25 under the National Unity Party (NUP).
The Liberal Party has 18 elected district representatives and LAKAS has 11. The remaining 27 representatives are from various political parties.
The House of Representatives is now in the middle of organizing its 60 standing and 15 special committees as well as parceling out about 138 leadership positions to members of the majority coalition.
These positions are negotiated among the parties with parties getting shares in those positions depending on the size of their membership so that the more lawmakers one party has, the more leadership positions will be given to its members.
Parties are then free to recommend to the leadership who among their members will be given the actual positions, with third-termers usually getting first crack or right of first refusal.
These developments come after Deputy Speaker Duterte and Mayor Duterte figured prominently in the last House speakership race that led to a term-sharing agreement between House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, with the Majority leadership given to Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, also among the speakership contenders.
The President’s children initially spurned the term-sharing agreement that was eventually endorsed by the chief executive, citing the need to make the House stable and productive. They also appealed to all to leave the speakership race to lawmakers.
That in turn came after Deputy Speaker Duterte expressed interest in the speakership, an idea President Duterte publicly dismissed by threatening to resign the Presidency if his eldest son becomes leader of the House.
The Duterte siblings would then form the Duterte Coalition in the House that endorsed the speakership bid of Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who has since been elected to the powerful position of chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The panel scrutinizes the annual national budget.
As the son of the incumbent President, Deputy Speaker Duterte’s moves in the House have been the subject of a lot of interest among lawmakers who seek to maintain close ties to Malacañang.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda once remarked that if the president’s son ran for the speakership, he would win with the votes of 300 lawmakers.
ABS-CBN News sources say close to 200 House members responded to his invitation for breakfast hours before the speakership election on July 22.