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The joke’s on you, Lord! Arroyo seeks Duterte’s guidelines on how to pick next speaker; Romualdez, Sammy Uy join Digong in Palace meet

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Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has dismissed as a mere joke President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration assigning former President and incumbent Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to endorse the next leader in the 18th Congress.

But Arroyo, who will retire from politics next month, is taking the President’s orders – which he declared twice publicly – seriously.

A Malacanang insider said Arroyo, through her girl Friday Medy Poblador, has asked Duterte for specific guidelines on who to endorse as Speaker should she decide to accept Duterte’s plea to take away the burden of choosing among his friends.

“Like a true Cabinet official, GMA will ask for directions from the boss before implementing his orders,” said the source. “Everybody knows

The source said Poblador was supposed to attend an after-midnight meeting with Duterte in Malacanang on June 27 but she begged off. The source said Duterte’s campaign financier, Sammy Uy, and Leyte Congressman-elect Martin Romualdez, Velasco’s rival for speaker, were also present.

Duterte makes a lot of jokes but the source said his decision to cede his endorsement to Arroyo was no laughing matter. Duterte made the announcement a few days before the June 28 deadline on his choice for speaker. “He’s too old for this kind of stuff so he wants GMA to handle it,” the source said.

Duterte’s shock move to tap Arroyo apparently sent Velasco’s camp into panic mode and release a manifesto where the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, Nationalist People’s Coalition and the party-list coalition signed up to support his bid for speaker. The manifesto is supposed to pre-empt Arroyo’s choice for speaker who most political pundits believe would be Romualdez based on the number of Arroyo loyalists.

The manifesto was also meant to shoot down a proposal by another speaker aspirant, Taguig Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, for a term sharing agreement with Velasco dubbed the “Magellan” formula – Cayetano would be speaker for the first 15 months and Velasco would take the last 21 months.

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