Duterte says yes to ‘term sharing’ between Velasco, Cayetano as House Speaker

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019   •   1919

(L-R) Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco

MANILA, Philippines – Today was supposed to be the much-awaited day at the House of Representatives (HOR) as President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to announce his choice for House speaker.

But instead of picking a name, the President maintained he is not endorsing anyone while he narrated how things transpired between him and his ‘friends’ who were coveting the position of House leader.

He recalled his previous conversation with Taguig representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano about the speakership race, the reason why the former senator quit his job as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and ran as congressman.

“Magtakbo siya ng congressman. Kung manalo siya, sabi niya, ‘Tulungan mo ako kasi gusto kong tumakbong speaker na lang. (He said he’d run as congressman. If he’d win, he asked if I could help him with his speakership bid,)’ the president recalled citing Cayetano.

“Yes, it’s all right to run. Pero hindi ako nag-commit (I said, yes. It’s okay to run. But I didn’t commit) because we politicians do not commit our support,” he added.

Duterte confirmed that Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco did talk to him as well of his intention to become the speaker of the House.

“Maya-maya si Lord Velasco. Kaibigan ko rin ‘yan. Kaibigan ko ang tatay kasi abogado, kaibigan ko man ‘yan sila lahat, justices and all (Then came Lord Velasco. He’s also my friend. His father is my friend being a lawyer. They’re all my friends, justices and all),” he said.

“Sabi ko subukan (I told him to try) ‘if you have the numbers after the elections,”’ he added.

On the other hand, the President said he had no conversation about speakership with Leyte-Representative elect Martin Romualdez or with Davao City Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

“The semblance of a knowledge prior to the elections, but I never gave any concrete ‘yes’,” he said.

To solve the issue, the President said he agreed to a term-sharing between Velasco and Cayetano.

“Ito sabi ko, ‘Maghati kayo ng term.’ Ang gusto ni Cayetano mauna siya. (I told them to share but Cayetano wants to sit first). But he will stay there just for 15 months. That’s what he committed. Si — and Velasco can have the — the other half which is not really as short — 21 months,” he said.

“Sabihin ko mag-ano… Ganun ang proposal. Pumayag na si Cayetano but si Velasco mukhang last minute nag-back out, (That’s my proposal. Cayetano agreed but Velasco backed out at the last minute),” he added.

With this, the President said, the decision is no longer in his hands.

He is now letting the lawmakers decide on who they want to pick as the speaker of the 18th Congress.

“So ang suggestion ko is ganito: Kung ‘yan lang naman, puro man tayo magkaibigan dito, huwag na lang tayong mag-away. (So my suggestion is this: since we’re all friends here, let’s not squabble about this). It will not help anybody,” the President noted.

“I am sorry. I am very sorry I could not be of help. Because hindi rin ako mag-underground (I cannot go underground). I will not secretly pass on any order or encoded na mag-ano kayo,(that would initiate a squabble amongst you,)’ he concluded.

As of this writing, all three speaker aspirants have yet to comment on the President’s remarks. – with details from Grace Casin

Roque to ask Duterte on possibility of voluntarily disclosing SALN

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.

Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.

The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.

Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.

“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Proposed order for price cap on COVID-19 tests awaiting Duterte decision – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A proposed executive order that will impose a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests is now awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted the proposal after completing its review on the recommended price cap.

Roque refused to divulge the recommended price ceiling on coronavirus testing in private hospitals and laboratories but he expressed optimism that the president will approve the proposal.

“Hintayin po muna natin ang desisyon ng president. Why is that? Kasi yung iba naman, napakataas ng sinisingil, alam naman natin, pwedeng mas mura yang testing na yan,” he said in a televised briefing.

Roque said the proposal seeks to make COVID-19 testing affordable and could help boost the government’s contact tracing and mass testing efforts.

“Para mas maging affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan ng sa gayong paraan ay mas maraming matetesting,” he said.

The DOH earlier recommended the placing of a price ceiling after observing differences in the COVID-19 testing cost in various laboratories and hospitals in the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

House to transmit 2021 budget to Senate ahead of Oct. 28 deadline – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to transmit to the Senate its version of the P4.506-trillion proposed 2021 national budget, a day before the promised date of Oct. 28, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Tuesday.

Velasco earlier said he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed on the date as the deadline of transmission.

The House speaker said the record-high budget was designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We increased the allocation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by more than three-fold to cover more Filipinos. We also provided extra allocation for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to help improve the country’s health care system,” Velasco said in a statement.

“The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to aid workers displaced by COVID-19 and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic,” he added.

The lower chamber passed the budget bill on third and final reading last Oct. 17 after it was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bill was approved a few days after Velasco was elected to the House’s top post following the removal of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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