Solve House power struggle? Bayan says Duterte very much part of problem
MANILA, Philippines — The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has found President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning to the House of Representatives leadership ironic, as the activist group believes the existing power struggle between rival camps stems from the Chief Executive.
According to Bayan on Friday, problems about the speakership gridlock between incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco originated when Duterte had a say on who should lead Congress — a branch of government independent of the executive.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said Duterte cannot simply wash his hands off the debacle when he is also partly to blame for it.
“The President is very much part of the problem of the power struggle at the House of Representatives. He cannot wash his hands off any responsibility in infighting among his allies,” Reyes said in a statement.
“Ever since the President was made to ‘choose’ the Speaker, and ever since Duterte gave his blessing to the “term-sharing agreement,” he became ultimately responsible for the outcome of the Speakership race,” he added.
Reyes then urged the House to resume its session in order for the proposed 2021 budget to be scrutinized and passed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We join calls for resuming the session at the House to allow for the scrutiny of the budget that was approved on second reading. We oppose the idea of Cayetano that ‘small committees’ will decide the outcome of the budget. How is this transparent? Where is the public participation in these small groups?” he asked.
“We do not want a rushed budget neither do we want a reenacted budget. There should be reasonable time to scrutinize the budget. We need more funding for health services, social amelioration, education, and economic recovery. We don’t need pork barrel for politicians,” he noted.
Duterte’s involvement in the speakership issue dates back to when three of his allies were vying for the coveted post — Cayetano, Velasco, and Majority Floor Leader Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Eventually, they agreed on a term-sharing deal, where Cayetano gets the first 15 months, and Velasco is in charge of the next 21 months. However, due to delays in the budget, Cayetano said he prefer being Speaker until the budget is passed.
Velasco on the other hand urged Cayetano to step down, on an agreed date which is October 14. However, Cayetano recently suspended session until November 16 — which means that the budget may not be tackled on the plenary.
On Thursday, Duterte appeared on national television to warn lawmakers that he may be forced to impose drastic measures should the budget be stalled due to the speakership struggle.
“Gusto ko lang sabihin in one straight statement: Either you resolve the issue sa impasse ninyo diyan and pass the budget legally and constitutionally, kapag hindi ninyo ginawa, ako ang gagawa para sa inyo,” Duterte said in the taped speech.
“Hindi ako nananakot. Wala akong ambisyong manakot. Wala din akong ambisyong magtagal sa pwestong pu**** ****g ito na puro problema. Wala akong hangarin.” he added.
(I am not trying to intimidate anyone. I don’t have any ambition to intimidate. I also don’t have any ambition to stay long in power, son of a b**** here we are full of problems. I don’t have yearnings.)
But Reyes said that the public should remain vigilant over the developments, as it may pave the way for an action from Duterte that would not be in adherence with the 1987 Constitution.
“Lastly, Duterte seems to be hinting at some drastic measure should the House impasse continue. The public should remain vigilant against any extra-constitutional act coming from the President,” he stressed.
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