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Paolo Duterte confirms threat to declare House leadership posts vacant

But President's son distances from Speakership row
/ 05:16 PM September 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential son and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte on Sunday confirmed sending a text message to his colleagues where he warned to move to declare as vacant the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speakers amid ongoing speakership row fueled by the “disparity” in infrastructure budget allocations in their respective districts.

Duterte explained that the text message was just an expression of his “personal dismay” upon learning of the trading of barbs in the lower chamber.

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“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,” Duterte said.

“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 added.

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The Davao City representative, however, refused to get involved in the House leadership row.

“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,” the lawmaker said.

“Most of these concerns shrouded doubts over the process and mistrust of the lawmakers ruling the House, those who are acting as if they are bigger than their colleagues.”

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

During the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget briefing before the House appropriations panel, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. claimed that Camarines Sur has been allotted a hefty P11.8 billion for infrastructure projects, while Taguig City will get P8 billion.

Taguig is the legislative turf of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his wife, Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano.

READ: Villafuerte asks Benitez, Teves: Explain suspected links to e-gambling

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But Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, one of Cayetano’s top allies, said Teves’ questioning reveals the plan hatched by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco’s camp, to disturb the current leadership’s track to pass the 2021 budget ahead of time.

READ: Villafuerte told: Explain why gov’t has to shoulder P420-M CamSur capitol construction

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano will serve as House Speaker for 15 months before Velasco replaces him and lead Congress for 21 months.

The young Duterte explained that his distancing from the issue is meant to preserve the independence of Congress and the Executive Department, saying that: “Anything that comes out of my actions or mouth could be construed or manipulated as having the blessing of my father. And so I would rather suffer or work in silence rather than sacrifice the supposed independence of the House from the Palace.”

He then said that could only hope that his fellow lawmakers would be able to resolve the issue to ensure that programs and projects of their constituents are delivered and delivered expeditiously.

“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,” Duterte said.

“If the members of Congress will push for a change in House leadership, as a reaction to their sentiments, obviously I would be among the casualties because I am a deputy speaker. I am ready to accept the consequences,” he added.

JE
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TAGS: 2021 budget, Congress, House of Representatives, House Speaker, Paolo Duterte, Philippines
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