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Lagman: Infighting to test Speaker

The usual infighting and not a coup will test the leadership of presumptive House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, contrary to the statement of Davao Rep. Paolo Duterte, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Friday.

A coup is “staged by hostile forces opposed to the establishment,” Lagman said in a statement.

“Considering that the members of the supermajority coalition are allied with President Rodrigo Duterte, the possibility of a coup from allies to subvert the President’s anointment of presumptive Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is nil.”

Rep. Paolo Duterte had earlier said President Duterte’s endorsement of Cayetano did not end the race for Speaker.

The President will accept whoever sits as the House Speaker when the 18th Congress opens on July 22, the Palace reiterated Friday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Chief Executive “will not mind” if Cayetano will not occupy the top post in the House of Representatives.

“That’s what the President said. ‘Do you mind? I don’t mind,’” Panelo said.

“Does he have a choice? The President will not interfere,” he added.

Lagman said the ouster of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during last year’s State of the Nation Address was different as it was not a coup but “a mutiny of a disgruntled crew orchestrated by an external force.”

That resulted in the installation of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Lagman said the current grumblings in the House were the usual infighting for the positions of deputy speakers, committee chairmen, vice chairmen and ranking members among fellow partisans, “which would test the mettle and fortitude of a leader.”

More urgent now, he said, after the positions of Speaker and Majority Leader had been settled even before a single vote was cast in the plenary, is the Minority Leader, which should come from the opposition.

“What is of urgency is the recognition of the third most important position, that of an authentic, credible and responsible Minority Leader from the ranks of the true opposition,” Lagman said. 

Duterte publicly endorsed Cayetano to be the next House Speaker for the first 15 months, while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will sit in the post for the remaining 21 months.

He offered the “15-21” term-sharing formula to end the speakership rivalry among three lawmakers which bugged the lower chamber for months.

“The premise is he does not want to interfere ever since. His help was sought deliberately by them so he gave a formula,” Panelo said.

The other top bet for the speakership was Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, whom the President endorsed as the House majority floor leader.

But Malacañang has been insisting that the final say on choosing House leaders rests on the solons, and the President has only offered a formula.

If this year’s SONA will take an unprecedented turn and diverge from Duterte’s endorsement for Speaker, Panelo said the Chief Executive will not interfere.

“As I have said, the ultimate analysis rests on the members of the Congress. They aren’t toddlers that need the President’s instructions,” he said.

Topics: Alan Peter Cayetano , Paolo Duterte , Edcel Lagman , Pantaleon Alvarez
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