By Ben Rosario
Presidential son and neophyte Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte is set to join the National Unity Party, thus, raising speculations that he might pursue the speakership when the 15-month unofficial term of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is over.
The young Duterte is set to take his oath as a card-bearing member of the NUP on Tuesday, the same day that the political party will elect new officers, including its president.
Currently headed by Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro as president, the NUP will also welcome five partylist lawmakers who represent groups allied with Rep. Duterte’s local party, the Hugpong ng Tawong Lungsod.
Among those mentioned were Reps. Carlo Gonzales (Marino Partylist) and ACT CIS Reps. Eric Go Yap, Nina Taduran and Jocelyn Tulfo.
“There is a good possibility that Rep. Duterte will become the president. I don’t think there is any violation of the party Charter,” an NUP source said.
DUMPER-PTDA Partylist.Rep. Dindi Bautista said she was not approached about the coalition proposal, adding that she is not aware of Rep. Duterte’s decision to join the NUP, a political party organized by former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The NUP, aside from the Nacionalista Party, was the first to throw its support for the speakership bid of Cayetano.
However, personal choices of other NUP members for speaker prompted its leader to declare a free zone for the speakership.
It will be recalled that before Cayetano’s election as speaker, Rep. Duterte declared a challenge to the Pateros-Taguig City solon and other candidates seeking the top House post.
Reports indicated that the decision was the presidential son’s demonstration of protest to the term-sharing scheme that his father had strongly endorsed as a formula to avert a possible disintegration of the existing coalition of Malacañang allies in the Lower House.
The new Davao City solon later pulled out from the race and instead formed the Duterte Coalition that supported close ally, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, as speaker.
Before his election as speaker, Cayetano mended fences with Duterte, who had earlier joined sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, in rejecting him as speaker.
Duterte was personally handpicked by Cayetano as deputy speaker for political affairs.
“I think it’s true,” Castro said when asked if Pulong will indeed join the party.
On the other hand, partylist stalwart Antipolo City Rep. Roberto Puno said: “Deputy Speaker Pulong Duterte is adopted [by] NUP.”