'Awkward' for Malacañang to announce new House Speaker, says Duterte spox

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2020 01:37 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte is hopeful that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will honor their term-sharing agreement for the leadership of the House of Representatives. File

MANILA— It would be "awkward" for Malacañang to make 
pronouncements on the leadership of the House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson said Wednesday after the chief executive mediated between the two lawmakers eyeing the post.

Duterte on Tuesday night met with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to smooth out issues over a term-sharing deal the President brokered last year.

"It will be awkward if the announcement on the leadership of the House will come from the Palace," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview on ANC.

"It is the House leadership that should address what has been agreed upon," he added, noting that it was agreed that Cayetano would make an announcement on last night's meeting.

Sources on Tuesday night said the meeting between Duterte, Cayetano, and Velasco ended with the agreement that the term-sharing deal would be honored. This means that Velasco will assume leadership of the House.

Duterte last year brokered the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco to lead the House during the 3-year term of the 18th Congress ending in 2022, with Cayetano taking the first half as Speaker.

Under the agreement, Cayetano would serve as House Speaker for 15 months set to expire in October, followed by Velasco for 21 months.

The term-sharing deal, however, was put in question after some lawmakers rejected the agreement, in favor of Cayetano staying longer in power.

Roque also addressed criticism on Duterte's meddling in the House leadership squabble, saying the chief executive did so as chair of the ruling PDP-Laban political party.

"He is the party chair of the PDP-Laban. He facilitated an agreement of sorts between the two members but that is not really a function of the President per se," Roque said.

Velasco is from PDP-Laban while Cayetano, the President's defeated 2016 running-mate, is a Nacionalista.