Pulong Duterte considers joining speakership race

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) — After denying that he will run for Speaker, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte now says that he is considering vying for the top post in the House of Representatives.

In a statement released Tuesday, Representative Duterte, the elder son of President Rodrigo Duterte, said he changed his mind about gunning for the speakership after talks of term sharing was floated by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running for Speaker.

"Moapil na ako sa pagka-Speaker," he said. “The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it. Pareho lang kaming binoto ng mga tao ah. Kung term sharing, term sharing na kaming lahat."

[Translation: I will join the speakership race ... The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it. We were all elected by the people. If they want term sharing, then we’ll all share terms.]

He is proposing that the Speaker’s term would be split among the Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and party-list blocs.

The President has confirmed that he floated a term sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, where the former gets 15 months as the top House leader before giving way to the latter who would sit for 21 months.

READ: Solon says many congressmen balked at term sharing for speakership

Cayetano agreed to the proposal, but Duterte said Velasco “appeared to have backed out at the last minute.”

The President has said that he will resign if his son throws his hat in the speakership race.

“Itong si Paolo, sabihin ko sa kanya, 'If you run for speakership, let me know. Kasi kung tatakbo ka, magre-resign ako kasi marami na tayo,'” Duterte said in May.

[Translation: To Paolo, I will tell him, "If you run for speakership, let me know. If you run, I will resign since there are plenty of us in government."]

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President was serious in his pronouncement, but added that this may change.

"Ang isang tao, ‘pag nagsalita ng isang bagay, seryoso ‘yun unless there are circumstances that will compel him to alter his stance. So hindi natin alam ang kalakalan na maaring makapagpabago sa isip ng Presidente," Panelo said during a Malacañang press briefing.

[Translation: When a person says something, he's serious unless there are circumstances that will compel him to alter his stance. So we don't know what would make the President change his mind.]

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who has served as a longtime aide of the older Duterte, believes that the President will make good on his statement.

"Pagkakalaam ko kay President Duterte, kay Mayor Duterte, mayroong isang salita 'pag ano binitawan niya. Hanggang sa dulo tutuparin niya. A man with honor po," Go said.

[Translation: I know President Duterte, Mayor Duterte, to be someone who sticks to his word to the end. He's a man with honor.]

The possible late entry of the President's son to the race for the top post in the House is sure to shake up the derby, which until now has been thought to have been narrowed to just three candidates — Velasco, Cayetano and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez.

For one, supporters of Velasco, ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan's (PDP-Laban) Speaker bet, would jump ship to the President son's camp should he push through with his bid.

"Basta’t si Congressman Pulong, siya ang mag-Speaker, lahat kami na kay Congressman Lord, susuporta kami kay Congressman Pulong," PDP-Laban interim National Executive Vice President and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales said. "Makakapagsalita ako sa sarili ko at sa grupo namin na walang lalaban sa kanya. Definitely walang lalaban sa kanya."

[Translation: If it's Congressman Pulong, if he would be Speaker, everyone on Congressman Lord's camp would support Congressman Pulong ... I can speak for myself and for our group that no one would run against him. Definitely, no one would run against him.]

PDP-Laban spokesperson Ron Munsayac said the ruling party respects the decision of the President's son and will meet Wednesday about the developments. He added that the party "will move as one."

Its president Senator Koko Pimentel, however, stressed that PDP-Laban members should first support the bid of their partymate.

"Congressman Pulong Duterte is not a PDP-Laban member. For as long as there are PDP Laban members aspiring to be House Speaker and they are well qualified to be one then PDP Laban members should and must consider first supporting their partymate(s)," he said.

CNN Philippines Correspondents Xianne Arcangel and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.