Cayetano, allies want the bulk of 2021 funds – Velasco
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies were trying to cling to their posts in their attempt to corner the bulk of the 2021 national budget, just like they did with the previous spending law, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said on Friday.
“The question for Speaker Cayetano and his peers: Is this a budget for the nation or a budget for your clique? Is this a responsive budget in the middle of a pandemic or just another huge budget for your group?” he asked in a Facebook Live post.
Velasco issued the statement in response to the Cayetano camp which, he said, had escalated their bid to paint him as “power-hungry and evil.”
The Marinduque representative cited the “15-21” term-sharing agreement with Cayetano who had agreed to serve as Speaker only for 15 months after which Velasco would assume the post for the remaining 21 months until the May 2022 elections.
Cayetano’s ‘Lengthy drama’
Velasco said that despite repeated dialogues with President Rodrigo Duterte on the speakership issue, Cayetano chose to turn his back on the agreements forged and instead staged on Tuesday a “lengthy drama” that culminated in 184 congressmen casting their vote for Cayetano.
“Who is in dearth of word of honor? It is up to you to judge,” Velasco told his audience without, however, mentioning if he had the numbers to oust Cayetano and deliver the 2021 budget on time.
Instead, Velasco called on Cayetano to honor his word that he gave in front of Mr. Duterte about abiding by the term-sharing agreement, adding: “Finish the budget and resign on Oct. 14.”
But Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte taunted Velasco on Saturday.
Villafuerte said in a statement that the current House leaders cannot corner the 2021 budget because it was Malacañang that made it in the first place.
According to Velasco, the Speaker’s attacks against him, which portrayed him as “inactive and lazy,” were only meant to undermine the term-sharing deal.
Velasco branded the allegations as “complete falsehood,” saying that he was perceived as an absentee lawmaker only because he chose to work “quietly and away from the cameras.”
He said members of Congress were supposedly aware of the questionable allocations in the budget, which had also led to dismay and grumblings the past days over the unequal apportionment of project funds in legislative districts.
“Is this why Speaker Cayetano and his sidekicks are adamant and fiercely fighting the peaceful transition of House leadership? Is this why Speaker Cayetano is trying to blackmail President Duterte and hold the budget hostage if his term is not extended?” he said.
According to Velasco, lawmakers are yearning to work on a “fair and equitable budget for health care and health facilities, poverty alleviation and education.”
He also dismissed allegations that he had been plotting to stage a coup against Cayetano, in violation of the term-sharing agreement.
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