Rep. Paolo Duterte (Davao City, 1st district) entered the discord in the House of Representatives leadership due to disagreements among lawmakers over their budget allocations for 2021.
Amid the alleged shakeup, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano posted a graphic with a biblical quote on Facebook on Tuesday, September 22.
The biblical verse which came from 1 Peter 3:14 said: “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
To recall, Cayetano agreed to share the Speakership role with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) that President Rodrigo Duterte himself offered to them in July 2019.
Based on the agreement, Cayetano would have to step down by October for Velasco’s turn in the position.
Last March, this rivalry reignited after Cayetano alleged Velasco’s camp of attempting to oust him from the speakership role.
In the looming change of leadership based on the chief executive’s term-sharing “deal,” the president suddenly distanced himself from the matter, citing he’s “powerless” if other representatives did not support Velasco’s bid.
“He’s hoping na tutupad sa usapan ang partido pero kung wala pong numbers si Cong Lord Allan, eh wala siyang magagawa,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told the reporters on September 22.
Paolo Duterte’s Viber message
Based on reports, some representatives have misgivings over their budget allocations for their respective districts amid the House deliberations for the national budget bill for 2021 which was worth P4.5-trillion.
This prompted the president’s son to send a Viber message to some of them, saying:
“I already told you, I am just keeping silent because the Speaker’s camp isn’t speaking to me anymore, and now I am suddenly dragged into this. I will ask the Mindanao Bloc to declare the seat of Speaker and Deputy Speakers vacant this Monday.”
In a separate statement, Paolo, who is also the deputy speaker, admitted he sent this and argued that he initially does not want to get involved and that he was only helping his colleagues for their concerns.
“I do not want to get involved, however, I wish to help my fellow lawmakers find answers to their questions or remedies to the budget that they proposed for their people,” the Davao City solon said.
“If the members of Congress will push for a change in House leadership, as a reaction to their sentiments, obviously I would be among the casualties because I am a deputy speaker,” he added.
The younger Duterte also said that he was just expressing his “dismay” over the matter.
He also noted that budget issues at the House of Representatives often involves how the current House Speaker treats other lawmakers.
“Now as Congress continues to be hounded by the issue of budget—something that finds its way up to the current House leadership, how it treats its members, how it approves allocations and budgets with fairness or lack of it,” the younger Duterte said.
When these reports reached social media, some Filipnos couldn’t help but express their disappointment over these government officials and their conflict amid the pressing issues being faced by the country.
Bakit may say si Paolo Duterte sa House Speakership? Ano to, kingdom? Monarchy? Our Lord Prince Paolo Duterte, appointed Son of God?
— Alo Lantin (@ALOveyoutoo) September 21, 2020
What House members are saying
In an interview with ANC on September 22, Deputy Speaker Rep. LRay Villafuerte (Camarines Sur) said that a “supermajority” of the House members wanted Cayetano to continue with his term.
“If you will ask the congressmen now, the supermajority of congressmen now would like Speaker Alan Cayetano to continue,” Villafuerte said.
“Nakita niyo naman yung performance ng Congress kahit may break nagtratrabaho, tumaas ang rating. Highest rating ever for the House of Representatives, everybody happy. Kung meron mang magreklamo, one or two people which the Speaker will resolve,” he added.
Likewise, Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS), House appropriations panel chair and close ally of Rep. Duterte, previously said in another interview that he doubted Cayetano’s ouster will push through.
“Para sa akin, 99.99% hindi po [matutuloy]. Mamayang hapon po, tingin ko hindi naman mangyayari iyan,” Yap said.
On Monday, reports said the House of Representatives immediately suspended its session after convening for only 18 minutes amid the alleged coup threat against Cayetano.
The session ended without any motion raised to declare leadership posts, including the speakership, at the lower chamber vacant.
As of writing, Cayetano still retained his position as the House Speaker.