House firm on secret fund realignment despite Duterte threats
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will not change its mind on reallocating P1.23 billion in confidential funds to government agencies defending the West Philippine Sea even with the “threats and intimidation” from former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Quezon City Rep. Franz Pumaren gave the assurance after leaders of political parties in the House called out Duterte over his statements that they said maligned and threatened Congress.
Pumaren, a House deputy majority leader, said “threats and intimidation will not get their desired effect” on the House if the goal was to get them to undo the realignment of the secret funds.
“As the good former president should know, we, as lawmakers duly elected by our respective constituents to represent their interests, do not respond well to threats and intimidation,” the lawmaker said, referring to Duterte’s remarks made in his “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” TV show last week.
Pumaren said the former chief executive should “go through the proper channels and file charges” if his allegations have basis.
“But to insinuate bodily harm or even the murder of a member of the House of Representatives, this has gone too far. We urge the former president to be cautious and reasonable in his criticisms. There are more peaceful and effective ways to send his message through,” he noted.
Last week, Duterte slammed Congress as the “most rotten institution” in the country and called for an audit of its expenses once Speaker Martin Romualdez decides to run for president in 2028.
He also accused Romualdez of allegedly orchestrating moves against his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, who lost P650 million in confidential funds for 2024 as a result of the House realignment.
In the same TV show, Duterte also threatened to kill ACT Rep. France Castro, who was among the vocal critics of confidential and intelligence funds in the national budget.
On Saturday night, the leaders of political parties in the lower chamber issued a joint statement to call out Duterte over his remarks that maligned Congress and threatened one of their own.
The statement was released through House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, who on Monday said lawmakers were “not just offended, but threatened” by the former president’s remarks.
Velasco pointed out that the expenses of both chambers of Congress were subjected to audit every month, and that the pork barrel funds that Duterte criticized were no longer existent.
Velasco also denied Duterte’s allegation that Romualdez was behind moves against the Vice President, including the reallocation of the confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, where the younger Duterte is concurrent secretary.
“That’s not true. That’s a collective decision of the House to divert the confidential funds to the government agencies engaged in defending the West Philippine Sea. It’s a group decision,” he said, adding that other government agencies also lost their confidential funds.
The House secretary general also deflected Duterte’s claim that Romualdez was eyeing a presidential run in 2028, saying it was “too early” for such talk.