(Photo Courtesy: http://www.apnews.com)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte cannot “coerce, intimidate, force” members of the House of Representatives to vote for their leader, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

House Speaker and Pateros-Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco are currently locked in a battle for the leadership of the chamber. Based on an agreement brokered by Duterte, the two lawmakers would share a term for House Speaker with Velasco set to become House Speaker on October 14.

But Roque said over the weekend that Duterte now views the matter on who will be the House Speaker as an “internal matter” that could be settled by members of the chamber. He even said the president respects the decision of the 184 members of the House who rejected Cayetano’s resignation as House Speaker last Wednesday.

“The agreement was between Speaker Alan and Congressman Lord. Yes, it was brokered by the president. The president, I think, has done his responsibility to remind both candidates for the position to honor their words but in the end, even two weeks ago, the president said, kung walang numero si Congressman Lord Allan, wala akong magagawa (if Congressman Velasco could not get the votes to become House Speaker, I cannot do anything about it),” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

It was last Wednesday from Malacanang that Duterte, also through Roque, said he would not interfere on the House Speaker issue even the president met with Cayetano and Velasco and their supporters at the Palace on Tuesday.

“Well, uulitin ko po ang paninindigan ng ating Presidente, iyong pagpili po ng liderato ng Kamara ay isang internal matter para sa Kamara de Representante at nirirespeto naman po ng Presidente ang naging desisyon ng Kamara na ibinasura po iyong pagri-resign ni Speaker Alan Cayetano (I will just repeat the stand of the President, selecting a leader in Congress is an internal matter of the House of Representatives and he respects the decision of the House to reject the resignation of Speaker Alan Cayetano),” Roque said last Wednesday.

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