Duterte tells reps on speaker post: ‘Sort it out among yourselves’

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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Tuesday said he will no longer endorse a candidate for the House speakership race.

In his speech during the oath-taking of newly-elected local officials at the Palace on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Duterte said he met recently with some of the congressmen who have expressed their intent to run for speaker, including Reps. Lord Allan Q. Velasco of Marinduque and Alan Peter S. Cayetano of Taguig.

Mr. Duterte said Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez of Leyte has also expressed his interest in the post.

The President said outgoing House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo was present during the meeting, and he asked her to choose a candidate for him.

He told Ms. Arroyo, “I will ask a favor from you, ikaw na lang tutal ikaw ‘yong pinaka-senior dito (you make the choice since you are the most senior here).”

But Ms. Arroyo refused. “Sabi nya, ikaw na lang (She said, you do it),” he said.

The President said the congressmen present thought he was just joking, but he explained that he did not want to make a choice and cause any ill feelings as everyone of them is his friend.

“Sort it out among yourselves…. [A]yaw ko (I don’t want to do it).”

On the planned shift to a federal system of government, Mr. Duterte said: “If you do not want federalism, fine, but change the Constitution.” — Arjay L. Balinbin