Duterte says yes to ‘term sharing’ between Velasco, Cayetano as House Speaker

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019   •   1648

(L-R) Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – Today was supposed to be the much-awaited day at the House of Representatives (HOR) as President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to announce his choice for House speaker.

But instead of picking a name, the President maintained he is not endorsing anyone while he narrated how things transpired between him and his ‘friends’ who were coveting the position of House leader.

He recalled his previous conversation with Taguig representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano about the speakership race, the reason why the former senator quit his job as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and ran as congressman.

“Magtakbo siya ng congressman. Kung manalo siya, sabi niya, ‘Tulungan mo ako kasi gusto kong tumakbong speaker na lang. (He said he’d run as congressman. If he’d win, he asked if I could help him with his speakership bid,)’ the president recalled citing Cayetano.

“Yes, it’s all right to run. Pero hindi ako nag-commit (I said, yes. It’s okay to run. But I didn’t commit) because we politicians do not commit our support,” he added.

Duterte confirmed that Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco did talk to him as well of his intention to become the speaker of the House.

“Maya-maya si Lord Velasco. Kaibigan ko rin ‘yan. Kaibigan ko ang tatay kasi abogado, kaibigan ko man ‘yan sila lahat, justices and all (Then came Lord Velasco. He’s also my friend. His father is my friend being a lawyer. They’re all my friends, justices and all),” he said.

“Sabi ko subukan (I told him to try) ‘if you have the numbers after the elections,”’ he added.

On the other hand, the President said he had no conversation about speakership with Leyte-Representative elect Martin Romualdez or with Davao City Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

“The semblance of a knowledge prior to the elections, but I never gave any concrete ‘yes’,” he said.

To solve the issue, the President said he agreed to a term-sharing between Velasco and Cayetano.

“Ito sabi ko, ‘Maghati kayo ng term.’ Ang gusto ni Cayetano mauna siya. (I told them to share but Cayetano wants to sit first). But he will stay there just for 15 months. That’s what he committed. Si — and Velasco can have the — the other half which is not really as short — 21 months,” he said.

“Sabihin ko mag-ano… Ganun ang proposal. Pumayag na si Cayetano but si Velasco mukhang last minute nag-back out, (That’s my proposal. Cayetano agreed but Velasco backed out at the last minute),” he added.

With this, the President said, the decision is no longer in his hands.

He is now letting the lawmakers decide on who they want to pick as the speaker of the 18th Congress.

“So ang suggestion ko is ganito: Kung ‘yan lang naman, puro man tayo magkaibigan dito, huwag na lang tayong mag-away. (So my suggestion is this: since we’re all friends here, let’s not squabble about this). It will not help anybody,” the President noted.

“I am sorry. I am very sorry I could not be of help. Because hindi rin ako mag-underground (I cannot go underground). I will not secretly pass on any order or encoded na mag-ano kayo,(that would initiate a squabble amongst you,)’ he concluded.

As of this writing, all three speaker aspirants have yet to comment on the President’s remarks. – with details from Grace Casin

Panelo: One-on-one interview with Duterte to push through on Tuesday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

After its postponement on January 22, the one-on-one interview with President Rodrigo Duterte will push through on Tuesday (January 28), said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.

The January 22 schedule for the one-on-one interview was postponed due to “pressing family matters”.

“Due to pressing matters, the tête-à-tête Part 2 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo has been moved to January 28, 2020 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace at 5:00 p.m.,” a previous media advisory read.

This will be the President’s second têtê-a-têtê. The first televised interview was held last September 2018.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

Duterte turns down Trump invite to attend US-ASEAN meet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he has decided to reject the invitation of United States President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to be held in Las Vegas this March.

Duterte announced his decision during an interview with Russian International Television Network RT.

“I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven’t been to the States. I was invited by [former US President Barack] Obama a while back. But I did not go,” he said in a video posted on Thursday.

When asked if he will attend the upcoming summit between the US and ASEAN, Duterte replied with: “No, no.”

During the interview, the president recalled the time when Obama criticized him and his campaign against illegal drugs.

“One time when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I’m also the head of a sovereign state. He should have criticized me in the proper venue,” he said, referring to a September 2016 press conference where Obama urged Duterte to conduct his campaign “the right way.”

The president said Obama’s move to castigate him in a press briefing got him “so mad” and prompted him to curse the former president.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the chief executive is “still pondering” on whether he would accept Trump’s invitation as he is mindful of the possibility of getting barred from entering the US since he doesn’t have a visa, and making some American senators “unhappy” seeing him there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)


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