Cayetano’s ‘theatrics’ took budget debates ‘hostage’ – Velasco
MANILA, Philippines — “Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage.”
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said this on Wednesday as he reminded Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano that Oct. 14 was chosen for the speakership turnover because of their commitment to get the budget passed on that day — “and do nothing else that would disrupt or derail the process.”
Velasco made the remark after the lower chamber moved to suspend the budget deliberations until Friday, Oct. 2.
Before the suspension, Cayetano offered to resign his post because a part of his term-sharing agreement with Velasco was rejected.
“We lost an entire day, and even tomorrow where you have declared that no session will be conducted, which are crucial in meeting our timeline,” Velasco said in a Facebook post.
“These attacks and distractions serve no purpose other than to perpetuate what is a purely personal agenda threatening to delay the passage of the budget. This is the truth,” he added.
According to Velasco, during their meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night, Cayetano “promised” to resign on Oct. 14.
“To Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, it was only last night when you promised to resign on Oct. 14 when the President ordered you to honor the term-sharing agreement. ‘Ito ay usapang lalaki’,” Velasco said.
“Moreover, the President entrusted you with the task of announcing the date of the turnover. October 14 was chosen as the date for the turnover because we committed to pass the budget before October 14 and do nothing else that would disrupt or derail the process,” he added.
With the date set, Velasco said it was “unfortunate” that the lower chamber moved to suspend debates on the proposed budget for 2021.
“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,” Velasco said.
“I assure my peers that we will be a gracious leader who would listen and be responsive to your concerns. But I make an earnest plea: Let us uphold the dignity of the House of Representatives by being men and women who believe in ‘Palabra de Honor’ in keeping our word and upholding the term-sharing agreement Speaker Cayetano and I swore to honor and respect,” he added.
I express my deepest gratitude to President Duterte for calling the September 29, 2020 meeting and bringing together…
Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor, a Cayetano ally, was the one who moved to suspend the budget deliberations. Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, another Cayetano ally, seconded the motion.
Defensor said the suspension would give the lower chamber time to address the lawmakers’ concerns regarding funding for various government programs.
Villafuerte, meanwhile, insisted on the power of the purse of Congress, as he took a swipe at Velasco who allegedly vowed to have the National Expenditure Program (NEP) passed without any realignments or changes.
“Our institution should not lose its power of the purse. By just passing the budget as it is in the NEP it would appear that we have lost authority, power, prerogative to fully scrutinize and give a suggestion,” Villafuerte said.
[Original statement: “Dapat hindi mawalan ng power of the purse ang ating institution by just passing the budget as it is sa NEP ay lumalabas ay wala na tayong otoridad, power, prerogative to full scrutinize and give a suggestion.”]
Noting that PhilHealth had a proposed budget of over P70 billion despite allegations of anomalies surrounding, he said: “Our institution should scrutinize the budget more closely and find out why we need that amount.”
[Original statement: “Dapt along usisain ng ating institusyon kung bakit ba natin kailangan ng gangtong amount.”]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.