Speaker race far from over due to possible 'coup' – Pulong Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — The House Speakership race is far from over despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s intervention that will split the term between two aspirants over rumors that a top contender for the post is supposedly planning some sort of a mutiny at the opening of the 18th Congress, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte said Thursday.

May balita balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag-coup d’état on [July 22.] Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers,” the President’s son said in a text message shared to House reporters.

[Translation: There are rumors that one of the three is planning a coup d’état on July 22. It seems like the battle among the three and their backers are not yet over.]

The younger Duterte did not name the person behind the supposed coup. Aside from Taguig's Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque's Lord Allan Jay Velasco, Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez also sought the top post. The President endorsed Romualdez as House majority leader, while naming Cayetano and Velasco in the term-share deal.

Paolo said this after his sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, denied rumors that she is encouraging lawmakers to vote for their personal bets despite the deal brokered by their father.

However, the President called this "wishful thinking," telling reporters in a chance interview that he is sure that Cayetano has the numbers to clinch the speakership.

AKO BICOL party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Wednesday that the speakership derby has been settled after Duterte’s pronouncement. They added that they do not expect the Duterte siblings to defy their father.

In a meeting Wednesday night, Cayetano addressed Romualdez as “Mr. Majority Leader.” Romualdez called Cayetano “Speaker.”

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said he expects that their members will heed the endorsement of Duterte, their party chairman, unless they are "abused," "ignored" or "set aside" in committee chairmanship and membership.

"Dapat sumunod kami, unless 'yung kausap na namin na nagne-negotiate kami ay number one, masiyado kaming inaabuso, masiyasdo kaming ini-ignore, masiyado kaming isinasantabi. Ibang usapan na po 'yun. Because he cannot also sit as House Speaker kung walang support of the 85 PDP-Laban [congressmen,]" Pimentel said during a Kapihan sa Senado media forum.

[Translate: We should follow, unless the person we are negotiating with is, number one, abusing us too much, ignoring us too much, setting us aside too much. That's a different situation now. Because he cannot also sit as House Speaker without the support of the 85 PDP-Laban congressmen.]

Pimentel said PDP-Laban representatives will meet with Cayetano Thursday night to negotiate on the fate of their party members during his incoming 15-month stint Speaker, ahead of their partymate Velasco's 21-month term.

Pimentel added that a House coup is "always a possibility."

Asked to comment on Paolo's allegation, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the next Speaker is still up to the House to decide.

"The only reason why the President gave that suggestion is because those who are vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestion to settle the row between and among them," Panelo said in a Malacañang media briefing.

Paolo and Sara have recently forged a coalition, called Duterte Coalition, endorsing Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab for House Speaker.

READ: Sara, Paolo Duterte meet with 3 House speaker bets

Before this, Paolo considered to run for Speaker, only to back out after consulting his father who had vowed to resign if Paolo aims to be the next House leader.

Lawmakers had sought the endorsement of the President to break the impasse within the coalition. But some also sought the nod of Sara, who had a hand in the ouster of Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker last year.

The House Speakership is seen as a key position in the run-up to the 2022 elections, especially in fulfilling the President's legislative agenda, which may either boost or hurt the chances of administration candidates in the next general elections.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel, Xave Gregorio and Ina Andolong contributed to this report.