House party chiefs tell Duterte: Stop the threats | Inquirer News

House party chiefs tell Duterte: Stop the threats

/ 05:58 AM October 15, 2023

Former President Rodrigo Duterte

Former President Rodrigo Duterte (From the Facebook page of Sen. Christopher Go)

MANILA, Philippines — In a bold and unprecedented move, leaders of political parties in the House of Representatives on Saturday called out former President Rodrigo Duterte for maligning Congress and threatening to kill one of their own.

Lawmakers from the major political blocs in the House said in a joint statement that Duterte should stop “making threats or insinuating harm” against Congress, which supported him for many years.


They took “utmost exception” to his statements and said that it was “deeply unfortunate that the former president chose to malign the very institution that for years supported many of his own legislative priorities.”


“Our institution, the House of Representatives, has been unwavering in its dedication to the Filipino people,” the House leaders said. “We call upon the former President and all parties involved to avoid making threats or insinuating harm against any member of the House or the institution itself.”

The joint statement was released late Saturday night by House Secretary General Reginald Velasco.

In a phone interview with the Inquirer, Velasco said the statement was the result of consultations with lawmakers from the House majority bloc.

The political parties that issued the statement were the Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats (CMD), Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party, and the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc.

Back in 2016, at the start of his term as president, Duterte got the support of the “supermajority” of the House, including members of the Makabayan bloc.

A year later, seven Makabayan lawmakers split from the majority to oppose Duterte’s “fascist, pro-imperialist and antipeople regime.”


Last Tuesday, Duterte slammed Congress as the “most rotten institution” for its supposed pork barrel funds — just hours after his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, lost P650 million in confidential funds for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) next year.

The former president and ex-Davao City mayor also accused Speaker Martin Romualdez of orchestrating attacks against his daughter and said the House chief was planning to run for president.

Romualdez is president of Lakas-CMD.

Duterte lambasted ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro of the Makabayan bloc and threatened to kill her.

Castro, a House deputy minority leader, was the first to call out Vice President Duterte for her P125-million confidential expenses in 2022 and led the opposition to confidential funds for civilian government agencies, particularly the OVP and DepEd, which had no peace and order, and national security and defense mandates.

‘You, France’

Duterte said he told his daughter that the “first target of (her) intelligence (sic) fund” should be “you, France, I want to kill all you communists,” he said forcefully in Filipino.

The former president made the remarks in an interview on his TV show on SMNI television network. The YouTube recording of the show is no longer available. The Makabayan bloc will likely file formal complaints against Duterte and a human rights lawyer said he could face charges of making direct grave threats against Castro.

The House political leaders maintained that the lawmakers’ decision to reallocate P1.23 billion in confidential funds to government agencies “in the context of escalating tensions with China, was taken in the best interest of national security.”

“It is essential to understand that this decision was made for the benefit of the nation and not as a personal affront to any individual, including the Vice President,” they said.

The lawmakers pointed out that apart from the OVP and DepEd, the Department of Agriculture headed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology also got zero confidential funds for next year.

“Casting these decisions in a light of personal vendettas is a disservice to the diligent members of the House of the People and the very essence of our democratic process,” the lawmakers’ statement said.

The House added that the pork barrel funds that Duterte alluded to were already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and that the lower chamber was “firmly committed to respecting and upholding this ruling.”

“Rather than making sweeping allegations in the media, we advise the former President, if he has tangible evidence of wrongdoing, to present it to the appropriate authorities,” the lawmakers said.

As to criticisms of the House’s extraordinary and miscellaneous fund mentioned by an ally of Duterte, the solons said these were “not only standard budgetary allocations meant for official functions and duties but are also transparent and open to scrutiny.”

These funds are subject to the rigorous oversight of the Commission on Audit, as the lawmakers stressed that the House “passed all levels of audits.”

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“There were no red flags, no disallowances, and no suspensions — a testament to our commitment to fiscal responsibility and transparency,” the joint statement added.

TAGS: Death threat, France Castro, Martin Romualdez, political parties, Rodrigo Duterte, Sara Duterte, secret funds

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