He may have brokered the term-sharing deal in the House leadership but President Duterte could not force the lawmakers on who to vote for their speaker, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President already reminded Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to honor the term-sharing agreement, but in the end, he respects the decision of the individual members of the Lower House.
“The agreement was between Speaker Alan and Congressman Lord. Yes, it was brokered by the President. The President I think has done his responsibility to remind both candidates for the position to honor their words but in the end, even two weeks ago, the President said, kung walang numero si Congressman Lord Allan, wala akong magagawa (if Congressman Lord Allan don’t have the numbers, I can’t do anything about it),” Roque said over CNN Philippines Friday.
“So, in effect, the President cannot coerce, intimidate, force the House members into voting one way or another. He can only remind the two leaders of what was agreed upon but in the end, he recognizes it is not the President’s call who to elect for Speaker,” he said.
Cayetano recently offered to resign to make way for Velasco under a deal to split the leadership of the 18th Congress. The House plenary, however, rejected Cayetano’s offer and rallied support for his continued leadership.
The Speaker made the resignation offer a day after he and Velasco met with the President in Malago compound in Malacanang Tuesday night on the simmering leadership feud in the Lower House.
Roque said the President respected the decision of the House to reject Cayetano’s offer. He said the President has decided to “stay out” of the issue, insisting it is a “purely internal matter” of the House of Representatives.
“He’s leaving it to the House membership to decide who their leader should be. In fact, the Constitution says it is the members of the House who will elect their leadership,” he said.
Roque admitted that he received second hand information that Duterte allegedly claimed the term-sharing deal has been honored since Cayetano offered to resign from the post. The Palace official, however, said he would still verify if the President indeed made such a statement.
“I will inquire if he actually said this because that’s a very important issue to resolve whether or not the President believes the agreement that he has brokered has been implemented,” he said.