In this file photo from July 2017, Duterte gives his State of the Nation Address at the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City. The House of the 18th Congress will elect its leaders in July.
File photo
Palace promises non-interference in race for House speaker
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 30, 2019 - 4:39pm

TOKYO — President Rodrigo Duterte met with three contenders for House speaker here but Malacañang maintained the chief executive will not meddle with how the chamber chooses its leaders.

Duterte, who is here to attend a Nikkei economic forum, met on Wednesday with Representative-elect Alan Cayetano (Taguig), Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) and Rep. Martin Romualdez (Leyte), photos shared online by Senator-elect Christopher Go showed.

Go, who remains the presiden't consistent companion, said that the election of House speaker was discussed during the meeting.

But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would not side with anyone on the race for speaker.

"No, I don't think he (Duterte) would interfere. In fact I was present during one of the courtesy calls made by the two of them in the Palace and I heard the president say 'you'll have to do it yourselves, boys, I will not interfere. May the best win'," Panelo told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Asked whether Duterte had told him about his preferred speaker, Panelo replied: "No, as far as he's concerned, these people know their jobs and that is to introduce laws, legislate laws for the betterment of our country and that's it. And to win members of Congress to their selves." 

"Whoever's the choice of the members of Congress then he would be the speaker," he added.

Congress comprises the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Panelo said the meeting was just a courtesy call and a private dinner composed of about a hundred people, including lawmakers and local officials.

In a chanche interview,  Cayetano was tight-lipped about the meeting and said they talked about "basketball."

But in a statement, Cayetano said everyone in the meeting expressed their desire to help the adminstration. 

"I requested a more principled way to the speakership. Trusting the institution and protecting its integrity is essential to the reforms we are fighting for," Cayetano said.

Other lawmakers who are reportedly eyeing the House leadership are Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte)—a former House speaker—and Rep. Aurelio Gonzales (Pampanga).

Panelo has been saying that Duterte does not intrude into the activities of co-equal branches of government.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES LORD ALLAN VELASCO MARTIN ROMUALDEZ RODRIGO DUTERTE
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