Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte Withdraws From Speakership Race, Backs Ungab

First District Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte said he has withdrawn from an earlier plan to enter the House Speakership race following a meeting with his father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement released to the media, the Presidential son bared that he had spoken to President Rodrigo R. Duterte about his plan to run for the top House post.

“We both agreed that this will not be the right time for me to be Speaker and I can still help his administration from the House in a different capacity,” the younger Duterte said.

Instead, the lawmaker said he will be supporting the candidacy of 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, who was earlier endorsed by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and the Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HTL).

HNP is a regional party co-founded by Pulong’s sister, Mayor Sara Z. Duterte, while HTL is a local political organization founded by President Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.

Pulong initially signified interest to join the race after the Speakership race was racked with divisions that threaten to break up the pro-administration coalition in the House of Representatives.

The three current contenders–Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez–are all administration allies.

Pulong said he was hoping he can unite the House and prevent a potentially bitter contest among the three. The young Duterte also proposed that the Speaker of the House post be shared by representatives from Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon, and the party-list groups.

Pulong said the President has been briefed about the entry of Ungab in the Speakership race.

President Duterte has repeatedly said he will not interfere in the race for the next Speaker of the House, noting that all candidates are all his allies.

On Friday, HTL and HNP released a joint statement calling House members to join the Duterte Coalition, in an apparent move to solidify support for Ungab.

The coalition even invited Romualdez, Cayetano, and Velasco to join the group. (PNA)