MANILA - The alleged meddling of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and other Cabinet members in the speakership race is "immoral and bordering on illegal," Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Friday.
Atienza earlier said he received reports that Dominguez and his peers have been egging President Rodrigo Duterte to back a term-sharing deal for the House speaker position.
"Iyon ay imoral at bordering on illegal because hindi dapat nakikialam ang Gabinete sa pagpili ng speaker," Atienza told DZMM's Failon Ngayon.
(That is immoral and bordering on illegal because the Cabinet should not meddle in the selection of the House speaker.)
"Hindi maganda kapag yang Gabinete ay nangingialam sa pagpili ng Speaker... That is a basic, basic requirement to sustain democracy," he said.
(It is not good for the Cabinet to meddle in choosing a speaker.)
Atienza said Dominguez is backing Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano's speakership bid, after other allies in the chamber thumbed down the term sharing scheme proposed by Duterte's former runningmate.
Dominguez has denied Atienza's claims, saying his department "does not interfere with the internal affairs of the legislative branch."
"The DOF and attached bureaus and agencies have submitted only its budget request to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) for consolidation and approval of the President," he said in a statement.
"Its budget is one of the smaller departments and certainly does not contain any 'insertions', whatever that term means," he said.
Atienza said he believes that his "good friend" Dominguez did not place insertions in the budget, but this does not mean that the Finance chief did not meddle in the speakership race.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco earlier denied that he agreed to share the post with Cayetano, shortly after ruling PDP-Laban endorsed him for speaker.
Davao City Mayor and President's daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio's regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago is backing Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab for speaker.
Atienza, who belongs to the minority bloc in the 17th Congress, said term sharing was also unacceptable for him.
"Bigla na lang magkakaroon ng speaker dahil nag-usap-usap?
Sino nag-usap-usap? Binoto ba ng ating mga miyembro?" he said.
(There would suddenly be a new speaker because there were talks? Who were involved in those talks? Did House members vote?)
"Dapat magkaroon ng malayang botohan at 'yun ang ating tatanggapin. Hindi dahil nakiusap ang Cabinet at ang pangulo ay nakialam," he said.
(We should have the freedom to vote for a Speaker and that is who we would accept. Not just because the Cabinet asked for favors and the president meddled.)