Duterte son clarifies rumors of him initiating an ouster plot against House speakership

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2020   •   630

Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Rumors of a possible ouster in the House leadership have been circulating over the weekend following last week’s deliberation on the proposed budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves during the House hearing questioned the amount his district would be getting for next year and asked for clarification on how funds are distributed among local government units.

Chismis lang naman ito, gusto ko lang sanang ma-confirm kung totoo ba na ang (This is only a rumor, but I want to confirm if it’s true that]) Taguig City is getting more than P8 billion and ang Camsur is getting P11.8 billion? ” he said during the hearing on Wednesday (September 17).

Ang distrito ko ang natanggap wala pang P2 billion and Number 8 ako in absorptive capacity sa buong bansa. Dapat iyon iyong binibigyan ng malaking budget (My district received less than P2 billion and I am number 8 in absorptive capacity in the country. That should deserve a higher budget),” he added.

According to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, it depends on the order of priority among government projects or if a certain project has foreign fundings. 

“The basis is not necessarily absorptive capacity. It also includes the pipeline projects. There are certain foreign-funded projects that are present in a certain district so it might seem that there is a larger budget,” Villar said.

Aside from Teves, several other members of the House expressed similar grievances over the fund allocations for their respective districts which was confirmed by Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte.

“Over the past days, quite a number of lawmakers have called me as they expressed their disappointment and consternation over the fate of their respective allocations and budgets from the hands of the current House leadership,” he said in a statement on Sunday (September 21).

But the presidential son was quick to clarify reports of him supposedly initiating an ouster of the House Speaker and the Deputy Speakers because of what he said. 

“Although I am an ex officio member being a deputy speaker, I have respectfully and clearly told them that their concern is something that I would rather stay away from — out of delicadeza because my father is the president,” he said. 

“Respectfully, I told them that I did not want to get involved,” he added.

Congressman Duterte admitted that he sent a text message to one of his colleagues but that message, he said, was given a different meaning. 

“The text message that I sent to another lawmaker — and is now making the rounds — was an expression of my personal dismay upon hearing the concerns of my fellow lawmakers. It was the same message that I sent after one congressman from the Visayas bloc dragged my name into the issue even after I have already strongly made myself clear over this issue,” he said.

The lawmaker said that although he is willing to help his fellow lawmakers find answers to their questions or remedies regarding their budget, he doesn’t want to get involved in matters concerning House leadership decisions.

His concern, he said, is the impact of these rumors on the legislature.

“I leave this issue to the members of Congress as I believe that it is within their rights as elected officials to come up with a favorable solution to an issue that could badly impact the development of their districts and their people,” he said.

“The members of Congress have the power to correct everything that they perceive as wrong happening within the Lower House or change leadership as they demand fair treatment and reforms,” he added.

Based on the term-sharing agreed upon before the President last year, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has 15 months or up to November this year to run the institution.

After which, he is expected to be succeeded by Marinduque Representative Allan Jay Velasco. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Party-list lawmakers question change of deputy speaker amid House speakership row

Marje Pelayo   •   October 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Some 54 congressmen in the House of Representatives expressed dismay over the recent ouster of 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero as deputy speaker last Friday (October 2).

The partylist lawmakers questioned the removal of Romero sans proper voting and without their presence.

Paano siya napatalsik gayong wala namang botohang naganap? Anong klaseng procedure yun (How was he ousted when there wasn’t any voting that happened? What kind of procedure is that)?” the Party-list Coalition said in a statement.

Romero is a known ally of Marinduque Rep. Allan Jay Velasco. 

He was replaced by Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro who is a known ally of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. 

Party-list congressmen are representatives of various sectors in the country with groups comprising millions of members. 

The coalition stressed the importance of a deputy speaker position that is occupied by their sector as it reflects balance in power and for their voices to be heard.

A deputy speaker is supposed to help the speaker of the House manage issues concerning the Lower House. 

He may also preside during sessions in the absence of the speaker.

Meanwhile, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. argued that the lawmakers’ move to reject the offer of Speaker Cayetano to resign last week was invalid. 

“In parliamentary procedure, when you raise a point of order you should be recognized. Bakit hindi nila ako nirecgonize (Why didn’t they recognize me)? So it means [the proceedings was] null and void,” Teves said.

He showed a video of him about to make a motion during Tuesday’s voting but he was not recognized and was muted instead.

He also questioned the accuracy of the votes which resulted in 184 voting to reject Cayetano’s resignation, one accepting the offer, and nine abstaining from voting.

Sa totoo lang, hindi kapanipaniwala ang 184 to 1. Sana kung nag-doktor sila ng numero inayos naman sana nila. So ibig sabihin si Cong (Velasco) lang bumoto sa sarili niya? si (Rep.) Leachon, hindi?” Teves argued.

( Translation: To be honest, the 184 to 1 result is implausible. If they were going to rig the numbers, they should’ve done it properly. So, does that mean only Cong. Velasco voted for himself? And Rep. Leachon did not?)

Meanwhile, Velasco is hoping Cayetano will vacate the speakership position on October 14 to honor their agreement. It is also the date when the national budget is expected to pass. 

But according to Anakalusugan Partylist Rep, Mike Defensor, Cayetano will not resign and it is up to the camp of Velasco to make a motion to vacate the speakership position so that the lawmakers can vote between Velasco and Cayetano. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Velasco slams Cayetano for delays in House budget deliberation

Marje Pelayo   •   October 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Marinduque Representative Alan Jay Velasco expressed dismay over the delays in budget deliberations on Wednesday (September 30).

He attributed the delays to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano after the latter stepped in and offered his resignation following their own squabble over the House speakership position.

“It is most unfortunate, therefore, that today, deliberations on the budget was suspended. Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage,” Velasco said.

After Cayetano’s offer to step down, the lawmakers moved for nominal voting which rejected his resignation allowing him to remain Speaker of the House.

Nevertheless, Velasco is still hoping that Cayetano will honor the term-sharing agreement they made before President Rodrigo Duterte and will hand over the speakership to him come October 14.

He asked his colleagues to fast track the passage of the proposed national budget for 2021 before then. 

“I call on my colleagues to continue our work and pass the budget on or before October 14. This is the commitment we’ve made before the President, and this is our responsibility to our constituents, to deliver to them a fair and equitable budget,” he said.

The budget deliberations will resume on Friday (October 2).

Velasco promised to address whatever concerns his colleagues have once he is speaker — that is, if he gets the majority of votes when the voting for change of speakership pushes through. 

For this to happen, Cayetano has to first declare the position vacant.

But on Wednesday, Cayetano reiterated that Velasco has to get the needed votes to become speaker.

“Sabi ko, ‘Mr. President, I will resign on October 14. Let me clarify, Mr. President, he needs to get the votes.’” Cayetano said repeating what he told the President during their meeting.

“I can step aside, but I cannot guarantee he will be elected,” he said he told President Duterte.

The gentlemen’s agreement was established in July last year when Cayetano and Velasco agreed to a 15-21 months sharing of the House Speakership.

But recent development has put the change of speakership in uncertainty as no one knows if it would proceed come mid October. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo) 

Cayetano offers to resign as House Speaker, lawmakers immediately move to reject

Marje Pelayo   •   September 30, 2020

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines — In a sudden decision, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday (September 30) offered his resignation but the Lower House immediately moved to reject it.

“I will not be a party to letting the President down. So I’m offering my resignation, here and now, to you my dear colleagues. My fate and the fate of the 2021 budget, and the fate of the leadership of the House is in your hands,” Cayetano said.

“Please don’t vote on party lines. Don’t accept or deny because of positions or what the President may say or what I might think. Bumoto kayo sa akin or hindi, [You vote for me or not], you are my friends my colleagues,” he added.

Cayetano’s announcement comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte met with him and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco Tuesday evening (September 29) and intervened to settle the tension between them over the House speakership term-sharing agreement they had last year.

Prior to Cayetano’s resignation, reports came out that Velasco will take over the position beginning October 14, allegedly based on what transpired at Tuesday’s meeting.

In his speech, Cayetano said the President asked Velasco to delay his takeover until December in consideration of the ongoing deliberations on the 2021 national budget — but Velasco, Cayetano said, did not heed the plea.

Under the term-sharing agreement discussed in June 2019, Cayetano would serve as House Speaker in the first 15 months while Velasco would succeed to serve for the remaining 21 months of the 18th Congress.

Cayetano is supposed to relinquish the position to Velasco in October.

Following his announcement, the members of the House moved for nominal voting to formally reject his offer of resignation.

One hundred eighty-four (184) lawmakers voted to turn down the resignation, one accepted and nine abstained from voting. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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