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Palace distances self from leadership scuffle in the House of Representatives

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By Genalyn Kabiling 

President Duterte has no complaints about House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano so far but would not interfere with the latest leadership scuffle in the House of Representatives, Malacañang said Thursday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during the latter's thanksgiving dinner and 48th birthday celebration held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City on October 28, 2018. (RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano
(RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the wake of the reported brewing ouster plot against Cayetano, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President would rather let the lawmakers resolve their own internal affairs.

“The President does not interfere. That’s the internal affair of Congress. Hindi siya makikialam diyan (He will not meddle) unless you ask him to settle whatever rift they have if there is any,” he said in a press conference at the Palace.

Asked if the President is satisfied with the performance of Cayetano as House leader, Panelo said: “He has not complained. I have not heard any remark.”

He added that it was up to the public “to make your own conclusion” on whether or not Duterte was pleased with Cayetano’s work.

Cayetano earlier accused the camp of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of spearheading a plot to remove him from the speakership. He claimed that congressmen have reportedly been offered budget allocations and chairmanship posts once Velasco takes the helm of the House.

Velasco however has denied any hand in the ouster plot against Cayetano, saying he would honor the term-sharing deal with the Taguig lawmaker.

Cayetano and Velasco, both administration allies, earlier agreed to split the House leadership under an arrangement endorsed by President Duterte. Cayetano is expected to serve as Speaker for 15 months, followed by Velasco for the remaining 21 months.

Panelo noted that the House members seemed to be satisfied with Cayetano, contrary to rumors about a possible change of leadership.

He said the alleged ouster move was only a “perception” by Cayetano. He said Cayetano himself challenged lawmakers to replace him if they were not satisfied with his work.

Asked if the President has any advice to Cayetano and Velasco, Panelo said: “Walang advice ang Pangulo. Kung ano ‘yung pinagkasunduan nila , eh ‘di sila ‘yung dapat mag-resolve nun (The President has no advice. It is up to them to resolve whatever they agreed on).”

“There has been an agreement. Since Speaker Cayetano has said he would comply with the agreement, I don’t think there is a problem,” he added.

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