Looming ‘coup’? Paolo Duterte says speakership race far from over

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019   •   857

Davao City 1st Representative Paolo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential son, Davao City 1st Representative Paolo Duterte on Thursday said the fight for the House speakership is far from over despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of a term-sharing scheme between Congressmen Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco.

In a message to reporters, the younger Duterte said no one has formally won the speakership race yet and an election would still be held on July 22 when the regular session of 18th Congress opens. This is also the day when President Duterte will deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address.

“May election pa sa July 22 at doon ako mas interesado, kung sino ang manalo. Kasi may bali-balita, may isa sa tatlo na balak mag coup d’etat on the day,” Duterte said.

“Mukhang hindi pa tapos ang laban para sa kanilang tatlo at sa mga backers,” he added.

The lawmaker did not name the speaker aspirant who might stage a coup d’etat during the House speakership election.

It was earlier reported that Cayetano will serve as speaker for 15 months, to be succeeded by Velasco for 21 months. Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, another speaker contender, will be the majority leader.

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

Romualdez earlier dropped from the race and accepted the president’s suggestion for him to take the job.

READ: Romualdez accepts House Majority Leader job

Aside from Cayetano, Velasco and Romualdez, other solons who have expressed interest in the position are Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, Bayan Muna party-list Carlos Zarate and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

Ungab has been nominated by regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, headed by Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Caprio while Zarate is the progressive Makabayan bloc’s bet.   

When asked for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it is still up to House members to choose their leader.

“In the ultimate analysis, the vote on the speaker would lie on the members of Congress. The only reason why the President gave that suggestion is because those or vying for it went to him and sought his wise suggestion to settle the row between and among them,” Panelo told reporters

He also believes that the president’s influence would remain unscathed even if lawmakers don’t vote for Cayetano as speaker.

“It’s not a reflection of the clout of the President. Because the President didn’t want to interfere in the first place, didn’t want to intrude. It’s them who somehow persuaded him to come in,” he said.

President Duterte earlier said the election of the speaker has resulted in a “bitter and fractious rivalry,” and that he decided to step into the speakership squabble “to save the unity of the alliance and avert its fragmentation.” (with details from Grace Casin and Rosalie Coz)

Robredo’s ICAD position not a Cabinet rank – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s role as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD) is not a Cabinet-level position, Malacañang said.

In a message to reporters on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo is not a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet and that the post she was recently given was not a Cabinet rank.

“The post she was appointed to is not a Cabinet level. The discretion to appoint her as a member of the Cabinet, in addition to her appointment as the anti-illegal drug czar lies with the President,” he said.

Early this month, Robredo accepted the task to co-lead the government’s campaign against drugs, which the Palace previously said is a Cabinet-level position.

However, Panelo earlier said that Robredo will be invited to attend Cabinet meetings if the issue to be discussed will be about the government’s war on drugs.

Robredo earlier said she will only attend Cabinet meetings if she is invited, adding that it was not specified whether her new task is a Cabinet position when she received the appointment.

Prior to Panelo’s message, Duterte said in an interview with GMA on Monday that he did not designate Robredo as part of his Cabinet.

“I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet,” the president said. “You know why? Early on she was talking right and left that she would talk to this and talk to that.”

“In the Cabinet meeting, we talk about what’s happening. Eh kung marinig nya yan dyan tapos dadaldal niya sa labas?” he added.

“Unang-una, Leni hindi tayo magka-partido. Hindi ako suspetsoso pero kung may makita ka diyan para ibuhos mo sa akin o ibigay mo doon sa iba para ibuhos sa akin… ‘Yan ang problema. Kung kapartido tayo, walang problema,” he said.

Robredo earlier gave assurance she would not divulge any classified information on the government’s war on drugs.

“Iyong assurance naman, lahat ng sensitive information hindi idi-disclose,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace: Duterte is now in the ‘green of health’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 18, 2019

Malacañang has announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is experiencing sickness due to old age and is now in the “green of health”, not pink.

On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president, who is now 74 years old, is “not normal” when it comes to his health.

“Hindi siya normal kasi nga, ang dami niyang nararamdaman. Kumbaga, kung sinabi ko noon na (He is not normal because he has a lot of illnesses. It’s like, if I said then) he was ‘in the pink of health’, ngayon (now) I think he is now ‘in the green of health’,” he said.

However, Panelo said despite these illnesses, Duterte continues to do his duties as the chief executive.

“If you will notice, kahit na ganyan siya, may nararamdaman, iyong kaniyang schedule ganoon pa rin, hindi pa rin nagbago (Even if he is experiencing illnesses [due to old age] his schedule remain unchanged), not only does he survive but he does it well,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace warns Robredo against ‘revealing state secrets’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 18, 2019

Malacañang has reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that Vice President Leni Robredo could be removed as the co-chairman of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) if she reveals sensitive information about the drug war to foreign individuals and entities.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said revealing state secrets would be damaging to Filipino people.

“Not to mention that under Article 229 of the Revised Penal Code, such revelation of privileged information is a crime which has perpetual special disqualification from office, among its penalties,” he added.

Panelo said the president’s warning came when the vice president previously requested access to all data and documents relating to the government’s war on drugs.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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