AS THE battle for House speakership drags on with more players joining the fray, Presidential son and Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte has formed a coalition in the hope of uniting the House.

The coalition is also warning Cabinet members against meddling in the House speakership race.

“As members of the House of Representatives, Hugpong ng Pagbabago and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod hope to unite the House,” said the group, which calls itself the Duterte Coalition, in a statement released on Friday, July 5.

Aside from Mr. Duterte, the other members of the group are Davao City Reps. Isidro Ungab and Vincent J. Garcia, Davao Oriental Rep. Corazon N. Malanyaon, Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel E. Zamora, Davao Occidental Rep. Lorna P. Bautista, Dumper Philippines Taxi Drivers Association Party-list Rep. Claudine Bautista, and Marino Party-list Reps. Sandro Gonzales and Anton Lopez.

“The Duterte Coalition is a strategic partnership of dynamic public servants who are committed to institute governance and development reforms that are necessary for the Philippines to secure its rightful place in the world stage of nations, particularly in the Southeast Asian region,” says their joint statement.

All this as the new coalition warned Cabinet members against meddling in the House speakership race.

“It has come to our attention that certain Presidential Cabinet members have their bet for Speaker. Everyone should note that, Cabinet members serve only on the basis of the trust and confidence of the President and should not participate in the selection of the Speaker,” said the group.

“Let us draw the line to define the independence of the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government,” it noted, adding that, “Congressmen and Congresswomen are elected and serve a mandate with an authority direct from the people. These lawmakers are the only rightful electorate for their leader.”

As part of this call to unity, the Duterte Coalition said “A special call to be a partner is extended to Congressmen Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Lord Allan Jay Velasco,” all of whom have been said to have thrown their hats in the speakership race.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said that he agrees with the position of the coalition.

“I fully subscribe to the position of the Duterte Coalition that Congressmen be given the freedom to elect their own leaders in the House of Representatives based on the dictates of their conscience and in accordance with the wishes of their constituents,” said Mr. Romualdez in a statement.

For his part, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco stated: “I am one with the call and aspirations of the newly formed coalition and implore my fellow lawmakers in Congress to set aside their personal ambitions and agenda and join the Duterte Coalition so together we can build a House of Representatives that is united and stronger, a House that truly represents the people.”

Meanwhile, majority party Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan President Aquilino Pimentel III welcomed the Duterte Coalition’s call to unite the House.

“We welcome any effort to ‘unite’ the members of the House. The PDP has been backing and will continue to back the bids for House Speaker of its very qualified nominees and for as long as we have a party member as a serious contender for House Speaker we will continue to call for party discipline and unity in supporting our party nominee,” said Mr. Pimentel in a message to reporters on Viber. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras