Cabinet men accused of lobbying for Alan: Speakership row spills over to Executive | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Vigilia, W. (2019, July 05). Cabinet men accused of lobbying for Alan: Speakership row spills over to Executive. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 08, 2019 from https://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/cabinet-men-accused-lobbying-alan-speakership-row-spills-over-executive

Cabinet men accused of lobbying for Alan: Speakership row spills over to Executive
By WENDELL VIGILIA – July 05, 2019

SEVERAL members of the Cabinet are allegedly meddling in the speakership race by insisting on the already dead term-sharing agreement between Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to protect their own interests, according to a party-list lawmaker.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he learned that a clique in the cabinet is pressuring President Duterte to insist on term-sharing even if “they have no business whatsoever in meddling with internal affairs of speakership.”

He said the cabinet men are urging the President to push for the term-sharing agreement because having a speaker of their choice would allow them to protect their insertions in the annual national budget which is reviewed and approved by the House.

“It is immoral,” Atienza said. “The Cabinet has no business whatsoever to meddle with the affairs of the House. We should respect the independence of the three institutions of democracy –the executive, legislative and the judiciary.”

Atienza did not name the Cabinet members but said the “maneuverings for the speakership” appears to be aimed at supporting Cayetano, who has been insisting on the term-sharing agreement with Velasco.

“Why are they insisting on term-sharing? It is an anathema to democracy, it will only hamper our legislative work, it is detrimental to effective delivery of services,” he said.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel joined in, saying: “Congress has never interfered in the work of the executive branch. Why should they meddle in our affairs?”

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez denied that the DOF is involved in the speakership race, saying it does not engage in politics.

“The DOF does not interfere with the internal affairs of the Legislative Branch. The DOF & Attached Bureaus & Agencies have submitted only its budget request to the DBM for consolidation & approval of the President. Its budget is one of the smaller departments & certainly not does not contain any ‘insertions,’ whatever that term means,” he said.

Last June 18, Dominguez and fellow Cabinet members Arthur Tugade (Transportation) and Mark Villar (Public Works), sponsored a seminar organized by Cayetano for neophyte lawmakers on the budgeting process in Clark, Pampanga.

Under the term-sharing agreement which had the President’s blessing, Cayetano will serve as speaker for the first 15 months of their three-year term while Velasco will take the next 21 months.

Atienza cited the discovery by congressmen of the alleged anomalous multi-million peso flood control projects that were funded under the 2017 and 2018 national budget.

He warned against the repeat of the P75 billion insertions that the House leadership under former speaker Gloria Arroyo discovered during the plenary deliberations on the proposed national budget for 2019.

Atienza also urged Duterte to stick to his decision to allow congressmen to elect their leaders.

“I stand by him (Duterte). I would really defend his decision to give Congress the prerogative to choose its leaders,” said Atienza.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, an ally of speakership candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, said the term-sharing agreement is dead in the water, especially since presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte has made it clear that he is against it.

“Maybe these cabinet members should be the ones to share terms among themselves,” he told a news forum in Quezon City.

Paolo had expressed intention to run for the post to stop the division among the members of the supermajority bloc.

Defensor said lawmakers should take the cue from the President who, when he was a congressman, voted according to the dictates of his conscience in the 1998 speakership race between then Reps. Manuel Villar and Joker Arroyo.

“In 1998, President Rodrigo Duterte was one of only five (congressmen) who voted for Joker Arroyo (as speaker). There was no concession or promise of anything for his vote. In fact, Joker lost and those who voted including then Congressman and now President Duterte stood proud among his peers,” Defensor said.

“I will follow his example and vote according to my conscience and belief of who will be the best for the Filipino nation. No deal or arrangement can influence my stand,” added Defensor, a colleague of Duterte in the 11th Congress.

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, also a staunch Romualdez supporter, also opposed a cabinet interference in the speakership race.

“If the interference is to subvert the statement of the President that he will not interfere in the selection of the speakership, I think there is something wrong with that. A Cabinet member should support the statement of the President,” he told the same forum.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, another Romualdez supporter, said it’s time for the President to reconsider his decision and pick a candidate to ensure the support of the supermajority.

“I think a presidential intervention at this point will clarify all things for Congress. Because at the end of the day, it is his reform agenda that is more critical to the nation,” he told the news forum.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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