House leaders take offense at Rodrigo Duterte's tirades on Sara’s loss of confidential funds

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
House leaders take offense at Rodrigo Duterte's tirades on Sara�s loss of confidential funds
President Rodrigo Duterte witnesses the program proper before leading the wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon Lezion, Israel on Sept. 5, 2018. Joining the president is presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Presidential photo / Karl Norman Alonzo

MANILA, Philippines — Party leaders at the House of Representatives have called out former President Rodrigo Duterte for taking potshots at the lower chamber after the former chief executive accused their leader of corruption and threatened to kill a lawmaker critical of Vice President Sara Duterte. 

In a strongly worded statement, the House party leaders criticized Duterte for “(maligning) the very institution that… supported many of his own legislative priorities" in the years he served as president.

The ranking House lawmakers also urged Duterte “and all parties involved” to “avoid making threats or insinuating harm against any member of the House or the institution itself," according to the statement sent to the media by House Secretary General Reginald Velasco Saturday night.

The parties that signed the joint statement were Duterte’s former party Partido Demokratiko Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Lakas-CMD, Nacionalista Party (NP), National Unity Party President (NUP) and Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI).

This comes after Duterte publicly accused House Speaker Martin Romualdez of sabotaging his daughter's request for confidential funds in the proposed 2024 budget, which the lower chamber decided to reallocate to agencies focused on defending the West Philippine Sea after several panel and plenary debates.

Hours after the House announced its decision, Duterte went on a public tirade on the television network Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) and described Congress as “the most rotten institution” in the country. 

During the interview, Duterte accused Romualdez of "swallowing" discretionary or pork barrel funds and called on the Commission on Audit to probe his alleged misuse of public funds.

The House leader's response to the accusation came through House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, who said that the Commission on Audit has not issued any notice of suspension or notice of charge concerning the lower chamber's use of public funds. 

The joint statement added that the "pork barrel" system has already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and that the House lawmakers “are firmly committed to respecting and upholding this ruling.”

“Rather than making sweeping allegations in the media, we advise the former president, if he has tangible evidence of wrongdoing, to present it to the appropriate authorities,” the House parties said.

RELATED: House, Senate: No confidential fund allocations 

Death threat 

The House parties also called on Duterte to refrain from making threats against lawmakers, saying: “Dialogue and understanding should always be at the forefront, superseding divisive rhetoric.”  

In the same SMNI show, Duterte publicly named Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) as the “first target” of his daughter’s intelligence fund. 

In a now-removed YouTube video of the interview, Duterte said: “Pero ang una mong target sa intelligence fund… ikaw France. Kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin (But, the first target of your intelligence fund… is you France. I want to kill all you communists.)”

Days after the House began its process of realigning confidential funds in the proposed 2024 national budget, Sara branded critics of the secret funds as “enemies of the nation.”

Without naming names, Sara said that any individual “who attacks or undermines funds allocated for peace and order is naturally assumed to have insidious motivations.”

After a week of deliberations. the House has removed all requested confidential funds from Sara's two agencies -- the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education -- as well as that of three other agencies.

Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina City), senior vice chairperson of the House appropriations committee, said that the five agencies will instead be getting additional funds under Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses to fund its intended projects.

RELATED: House scraps confidential funds for OVP, DepEd, DICT, DA, DFA 

This political rift between Romualdez and the Duterte father-daughter tandem comes months after Romualdez’s House allies issued cryptic statements criticizing the vice president for saying that the “Romualdez” has become unmentionable to her.

RELATED: Public barbs by UniTeam leaders signal brewing showdown 

During former president Duterte's term, Congress was compliant in passing several measures part of his priority legislative agenda, which was often done in record time. This includes the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the franchise denial of broadcasting company ABS-CBN in 2020.

with reports by Ian Laqui, Gaea Katreena Cabico and Kristine Joy Patag

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with