MANILA - (UPDATE) House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday played down as a "joke" his earlier statement that local politicians could lose funding if they don't support the shift to a federal form of government.
Alvarez said he cannot withhold the budget for local governments by his lonesome because budget proposals need the concurrence of the Senate.
"Kaya lang naman nagiging ganiyan dahil ini-interpret nila nang iba. If those words really mean nothing, empty words, ano yun? E di joke only...Paano ka naman magti-threaten ng alam mo namang di mo magagawa?" he told ANC's Headstart.
(It only blew up because some people interpreted it as such. If those words really mean nothing, empty words, then what are they? Joke only. How will you threaten with something you know you can't do?)
Alvarez said he could push for a "zero budget" for House members who don't support federalism, but this too could be overturned by the Senate.
"Puwede kong sabihin, ito, wala kang budget. Pero iyan, dumadaan sa Senado yan. Kung hindi pinayagan doon, di wala. Dun lang sa sarili kong bahay," he said.
(I can say, you won't have budget. But that will still go through the Senate. If that doesn't pass there, then it won't. It will only be within my chamber.)
He added, there will be no bonuses for provinces which are headed by politicians who may be supportive of federalism moves.
Alvarez made the statement on "zero budget" days after the House adopted a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly that will draft a new charter and pave the way for federalism.
Alvarez told ANC he was only being "frank" with local leaders. He said he was not like previous administrations who pencil in budget for opposition lawmakers but withhold its release.
"Ako, nagiging prangka lang ako. Kung wala, wala...Hindi ko pinipilit. Kung ayaw mo sumali, okay. I will respect your decision…Sinasabi ko lang na e di bakit kita bibigyan din? Kumbaga, prangkahan lang tayo. Hindi kita pinapaasa, hindi kita pine-pressure," he said.
(I was just being frank. If there's none, there's none. I won't force it. If you don't want to join us, it's okay. I will respect your decision. What I'm saying is why will I give to you as well? Let's be frank. I won't make you expect. I am also not pressuring you.)