Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, president of the PDP-Laban, said Duterte’s endorsement of a term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco was an “advantage but not an assurance” that he would get the votes needed to become Speaker when the House votes on July 22.
“He has to make sure everybody will be convinced,” Pimentel said at Thursday’s Kapihan sa Senado forum.
Davao City Rep. and presidential son Paolo Duterte said Cayetano, who has been meeting with lawmakers and making pronouncements about his plans, should not celebrate too soon, as there may be surprises when the House convenes to elect its leaders on July 22, a few hours before President Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address.
“The election will still be held on July 22 and I’m more interested in who will win, because there’s talk that one of the three contenders is planning so stage a coup,” the younger Duterte said in Filipino.
The President on Thursday shrugged off his son’s talk of a coup, calling it “wishful thinking.”
Earlier, President Duterte announced that Cayetano will sit as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will lead the chamber in the next 21 months under a term-sharing agreement.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who was a strong contender for the post, will work with Cayetano and Velasco as their majority leader.
READ: Romualdez takes majority leader post; House smooth sailing seen
“The fight is not over yet for the three contenders and their backers,” Paolo Duterte said.
Last week, the President’s son announced the establishment of a nine-member “Duterte bloc” in the House of Representatives.
Duterte said he organized the bloc to resist the meddling of Cabinet members in the choice for the next Speaker.
“It has come to our attention that certain presidential Cabinet members have their bet for Speaker. Everyone should note that Cabinet members serve only on the basis of the trust and confidence of the President and should not participate in the selection of the Speaker,” the coalition said in a statement.
“President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he will not interfere in the race for the next speaker of the House—noting that all candidates are his allies,” the coalition added.
Pimentel admitted that a coup in the House of Representatives is “always a possibility.”
Velasco is the candidate of Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban party headed by Pimentel.
“Coups are not announced. So theoretically, everything is possible,” Pimentel said.
Earlier, a text message was circulated among House members indicating that they disapproved of the President’s endorsement of Cayetano. The President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, denied allegations that the text came from her camp.
The President’s daughter was said to be behind the ouster of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez by former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo on the day the President delivered his SONA last year.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said he had received the text message from a junior congressman who was “very close” to Mayor Duterte.
In a statement on Wednesday, she called on Defensor to “stop sowing intrigue” and name his source.
Defensor apologized to the mayor for dragging her name into the controversy but refused to name the source of the text message to him.
Also on Thursday, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco applies only to the top position in the House and not to committee chairmanships that will be decided after the election of the Speaker.
“The choice for the committee membership, chairmanship, and vice chairmanships should be continuous for three years. There is no term sharing in the committees,” Salceda told reporters at a media forum on Thursday.
Salceda said party composition, seniority, and continuity in service are the three principal criteria in choosing committee chairmen.
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