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House coup looms

July 12, 2019

Just days after President Rodrigo Duterte endorsed Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano as the next speaker of the House of Representatives, the fight for the top House post seems to be far from over, with an alleged coup d’etat being plotted against the Taguig lawmaker, according to Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte strikes his signature pose with Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. File Photo

A screenshot of a text message, which reportedly came from Paolo was shared with the media on Thursday, claiming that one of the three other speaker hopefuls is planning a coup against Cayetano.

“May election pa sa July 22 at doon ako mas interesado, kung sino ang mananalo. Kasi may balita-balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag-coup d’etat on the day (There will be an election on July 22 and that is where I am interested, who will win. Because there are talks that one of the three is planning a coup d’etat on that day),” the text read.

“Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers (It looks like the battle is not over yet for the three and their backers),” it added.

Three other lawmakers were gunning for the speakership: Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab.

Velasco was the popular choice among lawmakers, but the President announced last week that Cayetano and Velasco would share the speaker’s term. Ungab was backed by the Duterte Coalition formed by Paolo and his sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Congressmen in favor of other bets were left with no choice but to adhere to the President’s decision that Cayetano would be the speaker for 15 months and Velasco, 21 months.

Of the three bets, only Romualdez had so far given in, and even rallied support for Cayetano in a gathering with other lawmakers on Wednesday evening.

“From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of this group, on behalf of those who were not even here, we are firmly, solidly, unanimously behind your leadership,” he told Cayetano in front of around 30 other lawmakers, most of whom were known allies of Romualdez.

Wishful thinking

The President, however, dismissed as “wishful thinking” talks of a possible coup at the House.

Duterte on Thursday expressed confidence that Cayetano would be elected speaker.

“You heard of wishful thinking?” Duterte told reporters during a chance interview, when asked about the alleged coup against Cayetano.

Asked if he was confident that Cayetano would get enough votes for the top House post, the President answered, “Alan? He will.”

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the reported coup against Cayetano did not show the Chief Executive’s lack of authority in the chamber.

“It’s not the reflection of the clout of the President because the President didn’t want to interfere in the first place. He didn’t want to intrude. It’s them who somehow persuaded him to come in,” Panelo told reporters.

Panelo, also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, noted that the President only gave his “suggestion” because the three front runners for speaker sought his advice.

“The vote on the speaker would lie on the members of Congress. The only reason why the President gave that suggestion is because those who were vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestion to settle the row between and among them,” he said.

In 2018, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo seized the top post from Davao del Norte Rep Pantaleon Alvarez, reportedly with the backing of the Davao mayor.

The coup happened hours before Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address.

Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are set to elect their leaders on July 22.

With a reports from Glee Jalea

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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