Salceda: Expedient for Congress if Paolo Duterte becomes Speaker

MANILA, Philippines – Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said it would be expedient for the House if Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte does run for Speaker, as he would provide lawmakers a “direct line” to his father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

Referring to the younger Duterte by his nickname, Salceda told reporters, “Si Polong po ay isang Duterte, at para sa isang congressman o para sa isang Kongreso, alam niya na kahit anong oras, p'wede siyang kumatok sa Pangulo, and therefore puwede niyang iangat ang mga concerns ng mga distrito diretso sa Pangulo.

(Polong is a Duterte, and for a congressman or for a Congress, he knows that at any hour, he could go to the President and therefore present the concerns of the districts directly to the President.)

Expecting Paolo Duterte to have unrestricted access to the President, Salceda added, “Kung talaga siyang tatakbo, sa pananaw ko, magko-coagulate po ang mga interes within Congress to support him.”

(If he really will run, in my view, interests within Congress will coagulate to support him.)

Divided House

Paolo Duterte on Tuesday, July 2, said he was considering running to become Speaker of the House of Representatives because he disagreed with the “term sharing” set-up pushed by Taguig-Pateros 1st District Representative Alan Peter Cayetano.

With several congressmen vying for the speakership, Cayetano had proposed to split the 3-year term with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, who initially agreed but changed his mind as he received the backing of PDP-Laban, the President’s party.

Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez has claimed to be a “strong contender” for the speakership.

Salceda, whose party is PDP-Laban, supports Romualdez and claims 178 congressmen pledged the same.

A candidate for House Speaker must get at least 154 votes to secure a majority in the 306-seat 18th Congress, which will vote on July 22.

Aside from Cayetano, Velasco, Romualdez, and possibly Paolo Duterte, two other lawmakers are aiming for the speakership.

One is Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab, backed by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter.

Former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Davao del Norte 1st District Representative, is running again. He was ousted in 2018 in a coup and replaced by Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Arroyo, former president.

Paolo Duterte, who resigned as vice mayor of Davao City in December 2017 amid allegations linking him to drug smuggling, said he might be able to unite the “divided” lower House.

Presidential intervention

Salceda joined Capiz 2nd District Representative Fredenil Castro and Anakalusugan Partylist Representative Mike Defensor in a media forum in Quezon City on Thursday, July 4, to express their support for Romualdez, whom they said was the most viable candidate for speaker in terms of competence and experience.

The 3 lawmakers said they oppose “term sharing” because it would disrupt work at the lower House when committee leaderships are reshuffled by a change in speakership.

Castro, who is the outgoing House Majority Leader, said term sharing would only lead to “instability and insecurity” among lawmakers, whom he said would be unmotivated, knowing a midterm shake-up might be imminent.

President Duterte recently said he would no longer endorse anyone for the speakership and just leave it to the lawmakers to thrash the matter out. He initially supported the “term sharing” arrangement between Cayetano and Velasco, but changed his tune after Velasco seemed to back out.

As the race to lead the lower House escalates toward the July 22 vote, Salceda urged the Chief Executive to “intervene.”

“I think a presidential intervention at this point will clarify all things for Congress because, at the end of the day, it is his reform agenda that is more critical to the nation,“ Salceda said.

Despite campaigning strongly for their bet for House Speaker, these congressmen said they are willing to fall behind the President’s son.

“Duterte 'yan eh,” Salceda said, “at saka nasa interes po ng congressman, lalong-lalo ng mga constituents namin, kung may direct line sa Malacañang.”

(He’s a Duterte, and it is in the interest of a congressman, especially of our constituents, if there is a direct line to Malacañang.)

“What better line than the son of the President himself?” Salceda added. –


JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.