2 solons in heated argument over committee chairmanship
A congressman allied to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte lost his cool when questioned about his authority to head a committee hearing after he reportedly jumped ship from the Liberal Party.
During the appropriations committee hearing on Monday, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab yelled at 1-Bap Rep. Silvestre Bello III after the latter asked if Ungab was still the chairman of the panel.
Bello asked the question after Ungab reportedly left the Liberal Party to support Duterte’s presidential bid in 2016. Ungab was appointed chair of the powerful appropriations committee since he backed the LP.
“I hate to discuss politics here… The gentleman is out of order! You’re out of order!” Ungab said.
Bello maintained that what he asked was a legitimate question after reading a newspaper report that Ungab had resigned from the committee.
To which Ungab said: “Who told you I resigned?”
Ungab said only the plenary which voted him can replace him as chair of the appropriations, a powerful committee tasked to deliberate on the national budget and sources of funding for proposed legislation.
“At present, there is no order from the plenary where I was voted as chairman of the committee on appropriations. I hate to discuss politics here in the committee,” he said.
“That’s what I wanted to find out Mr. chairman, if you’re still the chairman. If it’s not true, fine,” Bello said.
Rep. Ungab will not seek reelection, instead fielding his brother Engineer Alberto Ungab to run for the Davao City’s third district seat. Engineer Ungab will run against Rep. Bello’s son and Davao City councilor Karlo Bello.
Rep. Ungab is part of a supposed exodus of solons shifting their support from Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas to Mayor Duterte.
In downplaying reports that an exodus of solons has started, Ungab said his relationship with Duterte “goes beyond politics.”
“Our relationship with Duterte goes beyond politics… Mahaba talaga pinagsamahan namin. When I joined politics, kami na magkasama. We are friends. We call each other,” Ungab said in a previous interview.
He said the LP had always known that he is an ally of Duterte since he was introduced to President Benigno Aquino III.
Ungab said LP standard bearer Roxas seemed to understand his support for Duterte, especially because he and Duterte were from Davao City.
“Nababasa ko naman statements ni Secretary Mar. He understands, because I am from Davao and I am thankful for his understanding,” Ungab said.
“Even when Mar introduced me to PNoy, sabi niya, ‘Mr. President, ito si Ungab, bata ni Mayor Duterte.’ Alam ng hierarchy that I’ve been with Mayor Duterte for a long time,” Ungab added.
He said he did not ask permission from the LP to leave, especially because it was his third and last term as congressman and he would not be seeking another position.
“I’m now a lame duck politician… I’m retiring from politics . I want to enjoy retirement. I want to be with my family so it would be a long, long vacation ,” Ungab said.
Davao Del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario, LP Davao Del Norte chair, has also expressed support for Duterte instead of Roxas. His son Anthony Del Rosario is incumbent Davao Del Norte representative who is seeking the gubernatorial position next year.
According to a statement sent by Ungab’s office, other solons who would support Duterte’s bid are Davao City Second District Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano, Gabriela Rep. vying for Davao City council Luz Ilagan, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, A Teacher Rep. Mariano Piamonte, and 1-BAP Rep. Silvestro Bello III.
In a press conference last week, another Davao City solon Karlo Nograles said he and some 50 solons were set to support Duterte’s presidential bid.
He refused to name the LP members who would support Duterte.
Rep. Nograles of the National Unity Party (NUP) is the son of former House Speaker Prospero Nograles, Duterte’s bitter political rival. NUP belongs to an LP-led coalition in the 2013 elections.
Nograles lost to Duterte in the 1992 and 1998 mayoral election. In 2010, the elder Nograles again ran for mayor against Duterte’s daughter Sara and lost. The elder Nograles served as House Speaker from 2008 to 2010.
Duterte filed his certificate of candidacy as standard bearer of Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) amid questions of his eligibility to replace Martin Dino, who earlier withdrew his candidacy for president because of a petition to declare him a nuisance.
According to his platform of government he submitted before the Commission on Elections, PDP Laban bet Duterte plans to reduce crime, eliminate drugs, and implement a federal form of government, among others.
While he was hailed for his anti-crime crusade, Duterte had been linked to the Davao Death Squad, an alleged gang of assassins purportedly responsible for the deaths of 1,000 suspected criminals in the city since Duterte became mayor in 1988.
“They say I am the death squad? True, that is true,” Duterte once said in a television interview admitting his ties to the alleged group.
Duterte topped the latest results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) voters preference survey conducted Nov. 26 to 28 or after Duterte declared his presidential bid. He surpassed other presidential bets Roxas, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
The respondents were asked in Filipino: “With Rodrigo Duterte on this list as a substitute candidate for President, who would you most likely vote for President if the elections were held today?” The survey was commissioned by a Davao-based businessman.
The survey was conducted before Duterte was criticized for cursing Pope Francis. To divert the issue,Duterte had said that he was molested by a Jesuit priest when he was a teenager.
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