Presidential son Paolo Duterte plans to run for Speaker of the House

Presidential son Paolo Duterte. Photo: ABS-CBN News
Presidential son Paolo Duterte. Photo: ABS-CBN News

Presidential son and first-time Congressman Paolo Duterte declared today that he is keen to run for speaker of the House of Representatives. This comes almost two months after his father President Rodrigo Duterte made a public declaration that he will resign from his position if Paolo runs for the post.

Paolo, the representative of Davao City’s first district, made his intentions clear via a statement released to the media today. He said he did not want to run for speaker initially but changed his mind when Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano of the first district of Taguig-Pateros floated the idea that representatives could share the post through a term-sharing agreement, reported ABS-CBN News. 

Cayetano, President Duterte’s former Foreign Affairs secretary, also wants to be the speaker. He said that he and Marinduque Congressman Lord Alan Velasco agreed to a term-sharing deal that was supposedly brokered during the victory party of the pro-administration party Hugpong ng Pagbabago late last month. Cayetano said that Velasco agreed that both of them could be House speaker for a year and a half each term

However, Velasco denied that he agreed to the deal and said that splitting the speakership between two congressmen would create divisions within the House of Representatives. He also said that it would impede the passage of priority bills.

But Paolo thinks that a term-sharing agreement could work.

“I will run for speaker,” Paolo said in his statement, according to GMA News. “The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it. We were all voted by the people. If term-sharing [will be agreed upon], we will all go for term-sharing.”

Paolo suggested that the Speakership be shared by one congressperson from Luzon, one from the Visayas, another from Mindanao, and one from the party-list bloc, reported Rappler. 

“We are not talking about [just] two persons here. We are talking about our beloved country. It is not about speakership alone, but who is the right person to unite Congress,” Paolo said.

Aside from Paolo, Cayetano, and Velasco, Martin Romualdez of the first district of Leyte and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of the first district of Davao del Norte are also running for the Speakership.

In light of Paolo’s announcement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing today that Duterte might not resign after all.

“You make a position, you make a stand on the basis of circumstances. When those circumstances change, you change your stand. So, things can still change. So the president can still change his mind,” Panelo said.

Paolo is President Duterte’s eldest son with his first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman. He started his political career when he was elected village captain in Davao City’s Talomo district in 2007. He became city councilor in 2008 and vice mayor in 2013.

He was re-elected as vice mayor in 2016 but resigned from his post in December 2017 following a very public squabble with daughter Isabelle Duterte and allegations linking him to the smuggling of millions of pesos worth of shabu (meth).

He successfully staged his political comeback this year and was elected as a congressman of Davao City. It was also this year that his younger brother Sebastian Duterte was elected Davao City vice mayor while sister Sara Duterte was re-elected as city mayor.

In April, Paolo was the subject of a controversial viral video titled Ang Totoong Narco List (The True Narco List). In it, a hooded man using the alias “Bikoy” alleged that Paolo, along with other members of the Duterte camp, benefitted from the illegal drug business. The presidential son denied the video’s allegations.

However, a man named Peter Advincula eventually claimed that he created the videos and said that his accusations, including the allegations against Paolo, were false.

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