MANILA - Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte on Thursday refused to take sides in the ongoing Speakership row, saying congressmen should vote for a Speaker who could unify all member of the House of Representatives.
"If and when the day comes that we are called to select the leader of this House, I hope we vote for someone who is committed, who understands what we want to achieve for our constituents, and who can fight for and with us, and unify the 300 members of this House of Representatives despite our many differences," the Davao City 1st District representative said in a statement.
Choosing someone for the House leadership should not just be based on convenience or affiliation, the President's son said.
"And whatever may be the result of this, I humbly ask my colleagues to remain respectful to one another, and support whoever is the Speaker," he said.
As "good friends" to both House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, Duterte said he was on the fence on who should take over the chamber's helm.
"As I am all for a unified House, and given the value I place in every member of Congress, I refuse to make any statement that will favor or damage either of my two good friends who are both asserting their right to be our Speaker," he said.
Duterte noted that a term-sharing agreement was made between 2 lawmakers, in which Cayetano should step down in October while Velasco takes over for the remaining 21 months.
"It can’t be denied that such a term-sharing agreement was made before. Because of this, Congressman Velasco has the right to assert his claim to the Speakership. However, we have also seen that a considerable number of our colleagues still support Speaker Cayetano," he said.