Duterte says yes to ‘term sharing’ between Velasco, Cayetano as House Speaker

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019   •   2177

(L-R) Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – Today was supposed to be the much-awaited day at the House of Representatives (HOR) as President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to announce his choice for House speaker.

But instead of picking a name, the President maintained he is not endorsing anyone while he narrated how things transpired between him and his ‘friends’ who were coveting the position of House leader.

He recalled his previous conversation with Taguig representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano about the speakership race, the reason why the former senator quit his job as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and ran as congressman.

“Magtakbo siya ng congressman. Kung manalo siya, sabi niya, ‘Tulungan mo ako kasi gusto kong tumakbong speaker na lang. (He said he’d run as congressman. If he’d win, he asked if I could help him with his speakership bid,)’ the president recalled citing Cayetano.

“Yes, it’s all right to run. Pero hindi ako nag-commit (I said, yes. It’s okay to run. But I didn’t commit) because we politicians do not commit our support,” he added.

Duterte confirmed that Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco did talk to him as well of his intention to become the speaker of the House.

“Maya-maya si Lord Velasco. Kaibigan ko rin ‘yan. Kaibigan ko ang tatay kasi abogado, kaibigan ko man ‘yan sila lahat, justices and all (Then came Lord Velasco. He’s also my friend. His father is my friend being a lawyer. They’re all my friends, justices and all),” he said.

“Sabi ko subukan (I told him to try) ‘if you have the numbers after the elections,”’ he added.

On the other hand, the President said he had no conversation about speakership with Leyte-Representative elect Martin Romualdez or with Davao City Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

“The semblance of a knowledge prior to the elections, but I never gave any concrete ‘yes’,” he said.

To solve the issue, the President said he agreed to a term-sharing between Velasco and Cayetano.

“Ito sabi ko, ‘Maghati kayo ng term.’ Ang gusto ni Cayetano mauna siya. (I told them to share but Cayetano wants to sit first). But he will stay there just for 15 months. That’s what he committed. Si — and Velasco can have the — the other half which is not really as short — 21 months,” he said.

“Sabihin ko mag-ano… Ganun ang proposal. Pumayag na si Cayetano but si Velasco mukhang last minute nag-back out, (That’s my proposal. Cayetano agreed but Velasco backed out at the last minute),” he added.

With this, the President said, the decision is no longer in his hands.

He is now letting the lawmakers decide on who they want to pick as the speaker of the 18th Congress.

“So ang suggestion ko is ganito: Kung ‘yan lang naman, puro man tayo magkaibigan dito, huwag na lang tayong mag-away. (So my suggestion is this: since we’re all friends here, let’s not squabble about this). It will not help anybody,” the President noted.

“I am sorry. I am very sorry I could not be of help. Because hindi rin ako mag-underground (I cannot go underground). I will not secretly pass on any order or encoded na mag-ano kayo,(that would initiate a squabble amongst you,)’ he concluded.

As of this writing, all three speaker aspirants have yet to comment on the President’s remarks. – with details from Grace Casin

Duterte to visit Cotabato following BIFF attack in Maguindanao – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will head to Cotabato on Tuesday following the clash between soldiers and some members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) over the weekend, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president will meet with the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and government security troops to discuss the incident in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

“Siya po ay makikipag-ugnayan sa BARMM officials, sa ating kapulisan, sa ating kasundaluhan at pag-uusapan nila kung paano maiiwasan yung insidente nga nung Linggo, kung saan ilang armadong miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nag-occupy ng Datu Paglas pero sandali lang naman iyon at napaalis din sila ng hukbong sandatahan,” Roque said in an online briefing.

“Ang objective po ng Presidente, para iparating ang mensahe na hindi po niya puwedeng pabayaan ang kaniyang katungkulan na ipatupad ang batas,” he added.

On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market but state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.

“Dahil nga po doon sa insidente kung saan ilang miyembro ng BIFF ay panandaliang nagtungo sa Datu Paglas, ang kaniyang mensahe, ang warning niya po talaga, ipatutupad niya ang batas at hindi niya kukunsintihin ang paggamit ng dahas diyan po sa Maguindanao,” Roque said.

The military earlier said that the situation in Datu Paglas has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”

Local officials and residents in Maguindanao were also urged to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the armed group.

Duterte: I asked Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping for help on COVID-19 vaccines but no talks on WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his Talk to the People public address on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.

“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.

The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.

In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.

Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.

“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.

He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.

“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.

Correction:
An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.” 

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

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