MANILA Members of the lower chamber should not wait for President Rodrigo Duterte to announce his preference for the next Speaker of the House of Representatives before they decide on who to vote for the post, MalacaAang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this call amid the House speakership race for the 18th Congress noting that lawmakers should be able to make their own decisions regarding the matter.
They should not (wait). They're supposed to be knowledgeable of the candidates, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Although senator-elect Christopher Bong Go earlier said that Duterte is asking the contenders to give him until June 28 to decide on who to endorse, Panelo said the President has yet to make up his mind.
Ever since, members of Congress court the President. Nabago lang kay Presidente dahil hindi naman siya mahilig mag-interfere (It only changed because the President doesn't like interfering), Panelo said.
Siguro kinukulit na siya ng mga kandidato. Yung ibang grupo kasi (Maybe he's being pestered by the candidates. Some groups), they don't want to move without a message coming from the President, he added.
On Monday night, Duterte bared that he might or might not decide to endorse a candidate for House Speaker.
Look I just came from Bangkok. I have to go home because I have to work. I have so many papers to sign. Maybe when I sit for a - in the bathroom and begin to ponder, I might decide on what to do, Duterte told reporters during the premiere of the film Kontradiksyon in SM Megamall.
Preference not interference
Should Duterte endorse a contender for House Speaker, Panelo said it should not be considered an interference but an act of expressing a preference.
Let us not pursue the word of the President. He said maybe. Maybe, if he does that, he will be just expressing a preference, Panelo said.
Kung (If) expressing a preference, I don't think that's an interference. An interference would say 'I want this man to be the Speaker whether you like it or not,' he added.
Panelo said Duterte reiterated to him during the recently-concluded 34th Asean Summit in Thailand that his remark on the speakership race is may the best man win.
After the premier of Kontradiksyon, Duterte was pictured sharing a table with the three contenders during the thanksgiving party of Hugpong ng Pagbabago at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.
In a photo released by MalacaAang, Duterte was sitting beside Taguig congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Also pictured standing behind the President were senators-elect Christopher "Bong" Go and Francis Tolentino.
Senator Juan Edgardo Sonny Angara also shared on his official Facebook account a selfie he took while the President, Arroyo, and the three speaker contenders were sharing light moments.
A group of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino�Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) congressmen led by Ronnie Zamora, Neptali Boyet Gonzales II, Abraham Tolentino, and Dan Fernandez crossed party lines to support the speakership bid of Cayetano, a member of Nacionalista Party.
Zamora, representative of Lone District of San Juan, on Monday said he decided to support Cayetano because he is the most qualified among the Speaker aspirants.
For his part, Gonzales of Lone District of Mandaluyong said they need a Speaker who is not just close to the President but also someone who has leadership capabilities and good public service track record. Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in 2016 presidential elections.
Tolentino of the 7th District of Cavite and Dan Fernandez of 1st District of Laguna pointed out that many PDP-Laban members have expressed support for Cayetano because they want a Speaker whom they can trust and respect.
Leading more than 250 independent-minded solons is not an easy task, it entails experience and competence, Tolentino said.
The solons expressed confidence that Cayetano will be able to steer the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration since he also shared the vision of the President of providing a secured and comfortable life for the Filipinos. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency