House panel to look into $1.02-B cash brought in by Chinese nationals

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2020   •   446

The House committee on ways and means is set to look into the $1.02 billion in cash allegedly brought in by Chinese nationals in an alleged money laundering scheme.

Committee panel chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda called on a closed-door session on Tuesday (March 3) to discuss the issue.

Salceda approved the motion of Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing to conduct an investigation on the $160.58 million in cash allegedly brought into the country by Chinese citizens from December 2019 to February 2020.

However, Salceda said there is $840 million that entered the country through Customs.

“The $160 million that was reported is just a tip of the iceberg. Based on our reports, I have seen that on top of $160 million, there was $840 million that entered last year through Customs through the airports,” he said.

“There is an obvious and apparent use of the power of the Customs covering portable commodities and declaring it without passing through the banking system. Otherwise, this would have had red flags all over the place already. The thing there, it’s $1.02 billion, not $160 million,” Salceda added.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Cayetano tells Velasco: Honor word on House leadership posts

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano reminded Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to honor his word to retain leadership positions in the House of Representatives after the transition of powers.

In a Facebook live on Wednesday afternoon, Cayetano called on Velasco to fulfill his “word of honor” of not implementing any changes in committee chairmanships and leadership positions in the lower chamber.

“Sabi mo sa akin Palabra de Honor, de Palabra de Honor din sa side niyo dahil malinaw na malinaw na sinabi ng ating Pangulo that he doesn’t want disruptions so walang palitan ng kahit sinong chairmanship at leadership sa Kongreso,” he said.

Cayetano made the remark after Velasco replaced the chairpersons of two House committees, which he said should not be the case under their term-sharing deal.

Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon was elected as Senior Deputy Speaker, replacing Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte who was named chairman of the accounts committee.

The accounts committee was previously held by Cavite 8th District Representative Abraham Tolentino.

1-Pacman Party-list Representative Michael Romero was elected Deputy Speaker, replacing Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Raymund Villafuerte, who is a close ally of Cayetano.

Quezon Representative Angelina Tan was also named chairman of committee on health, replacing Guimaras Representative Lucille Nava.

Cayetano also claimed that some allies of Velasco are talking congressmen out of their positions, and are even taking their offices.

“There are now some of your people na gustong mang bengga talking to some of our people na magpalit na lang, umalis na lang. Pati Kwarto kinukuha,” he said.

“Let’s not do that, let’s all focus sa budget and as I promised you, kahit tingnan ninyo ‘yung text ko sa ating mga taga-suporta, ‘Please support the new leadership, please get the budget passed,’” he added.

Velasco has yet to comment on Cayetano’s statement.

The term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco was brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself in 2019. The deal appeared to have been fulfilled when Velasco was elected as speaker in a remote session on Monday.

His election was ratified at the Batasang Pambansa Complex on Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Cayetano steps down as House Speaker

Robie de Guzman   •   October 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines ­– Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano has tendered his irrevocable resignation as speaker of the House of Representatives following the election of Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco.

As House lawmakers ratified Velasco’s election to the top post, Cayetano said he is stepping down from the post to avoid any more division and squabble among legislators.

“Verbally, I am tendering my irrevocable resignation as the speaker of the House of the Republic of the Philippines,” Cayetano said on Facebook live.

“At 3 p.m., elect your new speaker and pass the budget… Walang maneuvers at political tactics na mangyayari diyan,” he added.

Cayetano’s move follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s reminder to lawmakers to resolve the speakership issue, and to pass the 2021 national budget on time.

Velasco’s assumption of the chamber’s top post ended weeks of leadership tug-of-war with Cayetano, and enforced the term-sharing agreement between the two rivals that was brokered by the president in 2019.

Under the term-sharing deal, Cayetano would serve as House Speaker for the first 15 months or until October 2020 while Velasco will take over the position for the remaining 21 months of the term.

Cayetano claimed he decided to give way to Velasco to ensure the passage of the P4.5-trillion General Appropriations Bill.

He said that based on his meetings with Duterte, he understood that he was going to turn over the top post once the budget bill has been approved.

“So Mr. President if I made a mistake, mali ang reading ko, misunderstood ko na gusto mong ituloy at tapusin ko ang budget, ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin. Hindi ko intensyon, never na hindi ka sundin,” he said.

Cayetano also urged Velasco to keep his word to retain the appointed House deputy speakers and committee chairpersons. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

House deputy speaker assures special session enough to approve national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 12, 2020

House Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund ‘LRay’ Villafuerte assured that the special session set from October 13-16 is enough for the proposed 2021 national budget to be approved.

“That’s more than enough to approve, so I don’t see any reason or any circumstance I can see na made-delay po iyan (for it to be delayed). We are very sure and confident that within the next three to five days, 13, 14, 15 actually 3 session days, maaprubahan na po iyan, (it will be approved)” he said during a press briefing on Sunday (October 11).

Villafuerte also assured that the passage of the national budget will be constitutional.

However, 1st District of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the three additional session days are not enough to thoroughly deliberate the P4.5 trillion proposed budget for 2021.

“An additional period of four days from October 19 to 22, 2020 is necessary in order that the committee and individual amendments to the appropriation measure can be considered and approved by Plenary before second reading,” he said in a statement.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (October 9) called on lawmakers to reconvene and set aside the dispute over the House speakership to deliberate on the country’s national budget.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco both welcomed the President’s request. Cayetano assured that the House will be focusing on the budget and will set aside politics.

Meanwhile, several lawmakers, including Velasco, are appealing to lift the 25-member capacity limit at the session hall.

“President Duterte’s marching orders to Speaker Cayetano is clear: reopen Congress to its members. This also means securing a safe and secure plenary hall in accordance with the health protocols set out by the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] and the Department of Health,” Velasco said. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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