Alvarez offers deputy speaker post to Duterte son

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
Alvarez offers deputy speaker post to Duterte son
He said they have broached the suggestion to the President’s son and “he seemed receptive to it.”

MANILA, Philippines — The ruling PDP-Laban is offering a deputy speaker position to President Duterte's son and incoming Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte in case the administration party captures the leadership of the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress, which convenes on July 22.

“We have been discussing this idea of having Rep. Pulong as senior deputy speaker or deputy speaker for Mindanao even before he hosted a dinner for our colleagues on Tuesday night in Malacañang,” a PDP-Laban leader told The STAR yesterday.           

He said they have broached the suggestion to the President’s son and “he seemed receptive to it.”

Duterte’s son represents the city’s first district, which Karlo Nograles represented until November last year, when President Duterte appointed him Cabinet secretary.

Another Davao City lawmaker, Isidro Ungab of the third district, an ally of the Dutertes, is being eyed to chair the committee on appropriations, the panel that scrutinizes the annual national budget. A former banker, Ungab headed the committee in the 16th Congress.

Last month, the President said he would resign if his son seeks the speakership.

“If you’re running, I will resign. There are so many of us in government. Your sister is a mayor. So I’m uneasy,” he said, referring to his daughter Sara, who was reelected mayor of Davao City. Her runningmate was her brother Sebastian, who was elected vice mayor.

In response to his father’s statement, representative-elect Duterte said, “I did not say I want to be speaker… Someone has again whispered the wrong information to you, Mr. President.”

Actually, it was Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez who floated the idea of the President’s son seeking the top House post. Alvarez, who has set his sights again on the speakership, said he would give way to incoming congressman Duterte if the latter was interested in the position.

Alvarez was speaker from July 2016 to July last year, when administration allies replaced him with former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The President would later repeatedly say in public speeches that it was his daughter who “maneuvered” Alvarez’s ouster.

Last month, Mayor Inday Sara, as family and friends call her, rejected the former speaker’s offer of reconciliation. 

“I have no intention of accepting Rep. Bebot Alvarez’s offer of reconciliation because the offer was deceiving and utterly lacked sincerity. Unknown to him, he was surreptitiously videotaped when he threatened, after his win in the recent elections in Davao del Norte, ‘Ipapahiya ko si Sara’ (I will embarrass Sara),” she said.

She added that Alvarez remained “to be a very dangerous, Machiavellian individual who does not deserve peace.”

Taguig City representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano said the President, after meeting with some of the congressmen on several occasions here and abroad, is set to announce his choice for speaker on June 28. 

“Categorically, I’m saying I heard the President will make a statement on June 28,” Cayetano told reporters at a press conference at the Bonifacio Global City yesterday afternoon.

His pronouncement was backed by senator-elect Christopher Go, who told The STAR that Duterte has told him that he is “most likely” to announce his bet for speakership on June 28. Pressed for more details on the President’s choice, Go said that he still does not know.  

Cayetano emphasized the importance of Duterte’s choice as he pointed out that 98 percent of the members of Congress have expressed support for whoever is chosen to head a “coalition” in the House of Representatives.

Even if some of his opponents for speakership have been campaigning for their bid, Cayetano said that he is still focusing on his work as he emphasized that the leadership is “just a matter of who is the best person for the best time.” 

He added that he is hanging on Duterte’s words, from whom he sought blessing in running for a congressional seat before leaving his post at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).  

Asked about his thoughts on the “term-sharing agreement” between him and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Cayetano said he saw nothing wrong with it for as long as he will be the first to sit. 

But he said that Velasco does not like the term-sharing idea.  

Cayetano said he would accept whatever decision the President will make as far as the speakership is concerned, even if he does not get the outright support of Duterte.  – With Robertzon Ramirez

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