Paolo Duterte, 8 other lawmakers form 'Duterte Coalition' in House

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and 8 other lawmakers on Friday, July 5, formed the “Duterte Coalition” in the House of Representatives and urged others seeking “positive change” to join them.

“We have created the Duterte Coalition and we wish to invite everyone to join this group of lawmakers who believe in positive change,” the group said in a joint statement.

The other members of the Duterte Coalition are:

“We shall not serve one interest, we will work for all Filipinos. And we begin today,” the coalition said in its statement.

The group was forged ahead of the House vote for Speaker on July 22. Paolo Duterte had earlier said he would join the race, while Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte's Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) said it would field Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab as its candidate.

The Duterte Coalition also urged “certain presidential Cabinet members” to stay away from speakership issue, but did not name anyone. It noted that even President Rodrigo Duterte had distanced himself from the matter.

“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,” the coalition said.

“Let us draw the line to define the independence of the Executive and the Legislative branches of the government,” it added.

'Partnership'

The new House coalition also extended its hand of “partnership” to candidates in the speakership race.

“A special call to be a partner is extended to Congressmen Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Lord Allan Jay Velasco,” it said.

Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, the ruling PDP-Laban candidate for Speaker, welcomed the creation of the new coalition.

"I welcome the formation of the Duterte Coalition whose intention is to unite the House of Representatives and push a strategic partnership between and among public servants who are deeply committed to institute reforms for better governance and development," he said.

Velasco said he shared 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."

Sara Duterte’s HNP: No to term-sharing

Mayor Sara Duterte, in her capacity as HNP chairperson, rejected a term-sharing scheme for the speakership, and echoed sentiments of at least two aspirants for the post that it would be  “counterproductive.”

“It will slow down the last 3 years of the administration of President Duterte. In a term-sharing situation, the House of Representatives will be racked with unseating the incumbent Speaker, deceit, dissent and distrust,” she said in a statement on Friday.

She also blasted the proponents of term-sharing, calling them “influencers,” as “they do not seem to care what will happen to the House.”

“They just want to install a Speaker and do not think about what comes after,” she said.

The term-sharing scheme, however, was supposed to have been approved by the President  himself during a meeting with candidates for Speaker.

Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano favored the scheme, and said in an earlier statement that Velasco had initially agreed to it in the presence of the President.

Velasco, however, later backed out, as he believed such a scheme would weaken the speakership and hamper the work of the House, a view shared by fellow rival Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez. – Rappler.com