Duterte should veto Cayetano pork
That was supposedly the reaction of President Duterte to the suspension of the House session until Nov. 16 by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. In the process, the approval of the national budget was held hostage.
STAR/ File
Duterte should veto Cayetano pork
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - October 12, 2020 - 12:00am

“Lord, nadenggoy tayong dalawa.”

That was supposedly the reaction of President Duterte to the suspension of the House session until Nov. 16 by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. In the process, the approval of the national budget was held hostage.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco told Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart: “Kitang-kita ko ‘yung galit ng Pangulo. Sabi sa akin ni Pangulo, ‘Lord, hindi lang ikaw ang napahiya dito, tayong dalawa.’

“Sabi niya kay Speaker Cayetano, ‘Alan, okay na. Oct. 14, you will resign. You will announce that on Oct. 14 you are resigning, because you abide by the gentleman’s agreement.’ After that, nag-shake sila ng hands.”

But last Tuesday, Oct. 6, Cayetano rushed a motion to approve the budget on second reading, even if it had not been thoroughly debated. The session was then quickly suspended and protests from congressmen were not heard because they were muted.

The suspension of the session prevented the formal election and oath taking of Rep Lord Allan Velasco as the new Speaker as agreed upon with Duterte himself.

Disappointed with Cayetano’s antics, Duterte has called a special session. But that’s not enough. Duterte must take punitive action because he was publicly embarrassed by Cayetano and he said so himself.

If Duterte just lets this pass, he will be seen as a lame duck president who can be ignored by his own supposed ally. He will become, in Duterte’s own words, na denggoy… inutil.

Of course, Duterte knows Cayetano wants to hold on because he is running for president in 2022 and pork will help fund that.

The best lesson Duterte can teach Cayetano that will really hurt is to line item veto all the pork allocations the Speaker and his allies awarded themselves. Doing this will even make Duterte’s popularity soar beyond 100 percent because every decent and long-suffering citizen of this country hates the rapacity of the crocodiles in Congress.

Just between Cayetano and his hatchet man, Camarines Sur Rep LRay Villafuerte, there is over P22 billion of pork to be recovered. There will be money to rehabilitate our ailing health system.

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, admitted Taguig City, whose two congressional districts are represented by Cayetano and his wife Lanie, was given P11 billion in public works budget for next year. But Yap said it is because it covers Fort Bonifacio, the army’s headquarters, where several big projects will be implemented.

Rep. Villafuerte said he saw nothing wrong if his and Cayetano’s districts get a larger infrastructure budget.

According to Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr., in a Manila Times story, Villafuerte’s district would get a total of P11.74 billion in DPWH funds, which will be coursed through the District Engineering Office for 2020 and 2021.

As for Taguig, Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. said Taguig City-Pateros would get a total of P11,113,791,000 under the 2021 budget. Taguig City-Pateros’ two legislative districts are represented by the Speaker and his wife Lani Cayetano.

“The budget allotted for Taguig City-Pateros is much bigger than the P7.26 billion for Region IV-A or Calabarzon, which is the biggest region aside from NCR. Meanwhile, only around P1.39 billion was set aside for Region XIII or Caraga. How is that fair and equitable?” asked Teves.

Also complaining, according to Cebu Daily News, is Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City’s south district. In the 2021 budget, Cebu City north district will get P992,436,000 worth of projects, while the south district gets a P912,787,000 allocation.

The Cebu congressman observed that while Cayetano and his allies were “wallowing in tens of billions of DPWH allocations for their districts, the two districts of Cebu City, which contributed substantially to the national coffers, are afforded only a measly fraction of a billion each.

“This is a big insult and (an) affront to the people of Cebu City. The people have been shortchanged,” Abellanosa told CDN Digital in a phone interview last week.

“Some lawmakers were asking about the huge budget allocated for Speaker Cayetano and his close allies. But instead of answering, the Speaker decided to railroad the budget, compose a group of his friends to amend it, and suspend session to have an early break and to hold on to power,” he said.

The inequitable distribution of pork funds hidden in the infrastructure budget for next year made the fight for the Speakership more intense. Under the agreement brokered by President Duterte, Cayetano is to serve as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, then Velasco takes over in the 21 months after that.

Cayetano tried to back out from the term sharing deal with Velasco to keep his control over pork as we move into election season. Cayetano thought he could get away with it, but he read the President wrong. Duterte still wants the term sharing implemented.

Will this break up the Duterte coalition in the Lower House? Probably not. Once Velasco is firmly in place as Speaker, most of the Cayetano allies will gravitate towards him too, and leave Cayetano by his lonesome. It really is all about money for those vipers… it is our money that makes their world go round.

Just to show how low our congressmen could be, they didn’t mind a public fight over pork that makes them look like pigs jostling each other at the feeding trough. Totally unbecoming of public officials.

The President should really do something drastic to endear him even more to the people: do a line item veto of the pork funds. Shift those funds to a discretionary fund under the President for him to use in helping common Filipinos and small businesses recover from the pandemic.

Those crocodiles will only learn a lesson if the President takes this drastic move. Let them also show some respect to the taxpayers… It has been long overdue.

 

 

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco.

LORD ALLAN VELASCO
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