Duterte tells House not to lose fo­cus on 2021 bud­get amid squab­ble

Business World - - The Nation - Gil­lian M. Cortez

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo R. Duterte urged con­gress­men to pri­or­i­tize the 2021 na­tional bud­get amid a squab­ble over a term-shar­ing deal for the speak­er­ship.

The Pres­i­dent, who bro­kered the term-shar­ing be­tween Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Marinduque Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lord Alan Q. Ve­lasco last year, met with the two on Tues­day.

Deputy Speaker Luis Ray­mund F. Vil­la­fuerte, Jr. told the ABS-CBN News Chan­nel on Wed­nes­day a deal was reached to honor the gen­tle­man’s agree­ment.

“His re­quest was for the bud­get to be passed as soon as pos­si­ble,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry L. Roque told an on­line news brief­ing in Filipino on Thurs­day.

An early pas­sage would al­low the govern­ment to max­i­mize its anti-coro­n­avirus ef­forts, he said.

Mr. Cayetano on Wed­nes­day of­fered to quit as speaker, which ma­jor­ity of con­gress­men re­jected in a vote. He said Mr. Ve­lasco was “too ex­cited” to take over the speak­er­ship amid leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties.

Be­fore his priv­i­lege speech, Mr. Cayetano said al­lies of Mr. Ve­lasco led a text mes­sage brigade ask­ing col­leagues not to lis­ten to him.

He said they were med­dling in the speak­er­ship be­cause they were aim­ing for key com­mit­tee po­si­tions.

Mr. Cayetano, who was Mr. Duterte’s vice-pres­i­den­tial run­ning mate in 2016, said Mr. Ve­lasco would ei­ther lose the num­bers game or face a coup for be­ing un­pop­u­lar and seek­ing to pass the na­tional bud­get without any changes.

Mr. Roque said the Pres­i­dent would re­spect law­mak­ers’ de­ci­sion on the lead­er­ship be­cause it is an “in­ter­nal de­ci­sion.” —

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