Palace: Duterte to leave speakership row to House members
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is leaving it up to members of the House of Representatives to discuss its leadership issues, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President only intervened in the past since members of the House were not yet “organized” at the time.
“All I can say is the President leaves it to the individual members of the House of Representatives to choose their leader,” Roque said in an online briefing.
(The Constitution is clear, only the members of the House of Representatives can decide on whom they will choose as leader. We leave that to the members of the House of Representatives.)
“Noong una po siguro, kinakailangan ng direction ng Presidente kasi hindi pa organized yung 18th Congress. Pero ngayon po after a year and a half, organized na po ang 18th Congress,” he said when asked what would make Duterte step in to resolve the House leadership row.
(At first, maybe they needed some direction from the President because the 18th Congress was not organized at that time. But after a year and a half, the 18th Congress is already organized.)
Regardless of the House leadership issue, Roque noted lawmakers should pass the proposed budget “on time.”
“Let’s just say, because the 2021 budget is also our biggest stimulus package, non-negotiable po kay Presidente, kinakailangan po mapasa po yang budget on time,” he said.
(It’s non-negotiable for the President, budget should be passed on time.)
Duterte previously endorsed a term-sharing between current House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for the House speakership.
Cayetano will serve as Speaker for the first 15 months or up to October this year while Velasco will serve as Speaker in the remaining months.
But recently, a fiasco on the House leadership sparked after Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. questioned the distribution of funds between congressional districts during the budget hearing of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
In particular, Teves raised questions over the allocation of funds between the congressional districts of Cayetano in Taguig City and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte in Camarines Sur.
Presidential son and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte have threatened to force a change in leadership of the House amid arguments on the supposed disparity of budget allocations in the proposed 2021 national budget.
But the Davao City representative refused to get involved in the House leadership row “out of delicadeza” since he is the son of the President.
He also said his remark was just an expression of “personal dismay” over the trading of barbs in the lower chamber.
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