MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has no power to choose the leader of the House of Representatives, Malacañang said Tuesday, following his meeting with Speaker-in-waiting Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Duterte brokered a "gentleman's agreement" between Velasco and Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, his failed 2016 running mate, wherein Cayetano would serve as Speaker until this month and be replaced with Velasco, the President's PDP-Laban party-mate.
Cayetano has asked that he stay as Speaker until December this year and offered to resign last Wednesday, only for a majority of lawmakers to quickly reject his move.
"Hindi naman po kasi Presidente ang pumipili ng Speaker--mga miyembro pa rin ng Kamara de Representante ang pumipili d’yan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told TeleRadyo.
(It is not the President who chooses the Speaker. That is up to the House of Representatives members.)
"Siguro po may punto na sa simula ng Kongreso, hindi pa magkakakilala ang mga kongresista lalo na sa Kongreso na ito na mayorya ay mga first-termer, puwedeng maging influential ang Presidente. Pero nakasaad po sa Saligang Batas, talagang decision iyan ng Kamara de Representante," he added.
(Perhaps at the start of Congress, when its members do not know each other yet because most of them are first-termers, the President could be influential. But it is stated in the constitution that that is the decision of the House of Representatives.)
Roque said he was not at the meeting of Duterte and Velasco late Monday, but would give more details on this during his press briefing later. The President talked to the lawmaker after his meeting with the inter-agency task force leading the pandemic response.
Duterte has said in 2 separate occasions that while he wanted the term-sharing deal to be enforced, he cannot do anything if Velasco did not have enough lawmakers on his side, said Roque.