Duterte says to intervene if Congress doesn't solve budget delay
Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - October 8, 2020 - 8:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte issued a strong warning on Thursday to Congress that he will intervene if the chamber fails to pass the budget “legally and constitutionally.”

“Either you resolve the issue sa impasse ninyo ‘yan and pass the budget legally and constitutionally. ‘Pag hindi ninyo ginawa, ako ang gagawa para sa inyo,” Duterte said.

(Either you resolve the issue about your impasse and pass the budget legally and constitutionally. If you can’t do it, I’ll do it for you.)

Duterte did not specify how exactly he will intervene, but he underscored that he is not threatening anyone and does not desire to linger longer in his position.

He also refused to provide a timeline as to when the budget should be passed, saying this is only the work of dictators, but said that he will step in if “there will be a delay and it will result in the derailment of government service.”

The president also hinted that Congress may have violated the Constitution in their proceedings with the budget, but no longer dwelled on the specific provisions the chamber may have disobeyed.

He also once again distanced himself from the ongoing leadership row in the House of Representatives, even appealing to no longer drag him in the tussle between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) at the expense of tainting his administration’s legacy.

“‘Wag na niyo ninyo akong idamay sa away ninyo, tapos in the future, people will be asking. ‘What happened to the administration of Duterte?’” he said.

(Don’t involve me in your quarrel, only for people to ask in the future, ‘What happened to the administration of Duterte?’)

‘Don’t play too much’

Duterte’s warning came after a long week of maneuverings in the House led by Cayetano, which resulted in the abrupt end of the public debates on the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for next year and the House taking a break earlier than expected.

While this also resulted in the passage of the budget on second reading, it also means that the House would not be able to pass the spending plan on final reading on its self-imposed deadline on October 14 as the session is suspended until November 16.

“Wag niyo naman sobrahan ang laro sa Congress na ang budget mismo ang nalagay sa alanganin,” Duterte said.

(Don’t play too much in Congress because the budget itself is being placed in a dilemma.)

He added, “There is something more higher than just delaying and maneuvering in Congress because everybody wants to be speaker.”

Several lawmakers, including Velasco, have called on the House leadership to reconvene the session, but Cayetano has balked at this idea saying that continuing budget deliberations in plenary would further lead to politicking.

“There are saboteurs, there were people with their own intentions. Lawmakers and the departments were no longer able to talk well with each other,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Lawmakers allied with Velasco said it is still possible for a majority of congressmen to reconvene the session ahead November 16, but Cayetano’s allies said this would be illegal.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 22, 2020 - 1:49pm

The Duterte administration is set to submit its penultimate budget proposal for Congress's consideration on Tuesday, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado says.

"We've arranged the submission today after lunch," Avisado says in a text message.

The proposed budget will be worth P4.506 trillion, 9.9% higher than this year's P4.1-trillion outlay. The government says the outlay would prioritize ongoing response to the pandemic. — Prinz Magtulis

October 22, 2020 - 1:49pm

Sen. Risa Hontiveros warns against a P2.04-billion cut on the 2021 budget of the Department of Health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The senator says it is crucial for government hospitals to cover the costs of regular operations, including utilities, medicine, diagnostic procedures, IV fluids and other expenses.

"Billions worth of cuts in the middle of a pandemic means we drastically slashed the capacity of government hospitals to provide services and medicines for free. Dahil dito, aakyat pa ang out-of-pocket expenses ng mga tao. This is grossly anti-poor and anti-people," Hontiveros says.

October 20, 2020 - 10:24am

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says the tourism industry needs more funding in the proposed 2021 national budget, describing the allocation for the DOT as meager.

He says no provisions were made for cash-for-work programs for tourism employees.

"Tourism is the second biggest contributor to the country’s GDP. Instead of rewarding and supporting the DOT and tourism enterprises, our national budget keeps on decreasing its support for the tourism industry," Drilon is quoted as saying during the Senate hearing on the agency's proposed 2021 budget.

He says that the P3.52-billion allocation for the Department of Tourism, down from P4.9 billion proposed by the agency, "is insufficient given the sector's contribution to the economy and its capability to bring back economic activities halted by the COVID-19 pandemic."

October 19, 2020 - 2:10pm

The House version of the 2021 national budget is ready for submission to the Senate after the lower chamber's small group reached a consensus, Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay) says.

Noting that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco delivers, Salceda notes that they only considered institutional amendments, departmental errata and individual amendments during the bicameral committee.

October 11, 2020 - 3:12pm

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez says the Congress will resume deliberations on the 2021 national budget following the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for a special session.

"Let us set aside politics and focus first on the passage of the national budget as requested by the President," Romualdez says in a statement.

Romualdez stresses that they will respect the term-sharing agreement and that they will ensure a smooth transition of leadership in the lower chamber.

October 11, 2020 - 3:01pm

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has endorsed Rep. Lord Velasco (Marinduque) as speaker of the House of Representatives, according to Rep Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro).

"She's doing it as a friend of Cong. Velasco. Besides, she believes that parties to the term-sharing agreement must be gentleman enough to comply," Leachon says in a statement.

Leachon adds that non-adherence to the term-sharing agreement is a defiance to President Rodrigo Duterte.

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