Duterte son mulls run for top spot in Philippine Congress

Duterte son mulls run for top spot in Philippine Congress
FILE PHOTO: Paolo Duterte, son of President Rodrigo Duterte, testifies at a Senate hearing on drug smuggling in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro -
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MANILA (Reuters) – The son of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he might seek the speakership of the lower house of Congress, heating up a race for leadership of a legislature dominated by his father’s allies.

Paolo Duterte, 44, who won a seat in May’s midterm election, proposed to share the three-year speaker term and wants to settle what he said was a divide in a newly-elected chamber that has yet to convene for its first session.

“We are not talking about two persons here. We are talking about our beloved country,” he said in a statement.

“It is not about speakership alone, but who is the right person to unite Congress,” he added.

The president has yet to endorse a candidate amid intense lobbying for the post. A month ago, Duterte said he would resign the presidency if his son became speaker, because there were already three Dutertes in office.

He was referring to daughter Sara Duterte, his successor as Davao City mayor, and youngest son, Sebastian, her vice mayor.

Sara Duterte is fast becoming a political heavyweight and is being tipped to take over as president in 2022.

Paolo Duterte had served as Davao vice mayor but resigned in late 2017 citing a failed marriage and damage to his reputation from him being linked to a seized $125 million shipment of illegal drugs from China, which led to his appearance before a Senate inquiry.

He has denied involvement and he has not been charged with any offence.

Though the president has increased his majority in Congress and the Senate, his choice of house leaders and their effectiveness could be vital to determining the success or failure of his presidency.

Some political commentators say Duterte needs to get his legislative agenda passed as early as possible, or risk it being held hostage by money politics, horse-trading or a shifting of allegiances as the 2022 elections draw nearer.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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