Paolo Duterte to remain neutral in Speakership row; meeting happened in Manila - Yap

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2020 08:08 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2020 10:11 AM

Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte will remain neutral in the Speakership issue between Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, House Appropriations Committee Chair Eric Yap said.

"Wala pong napag-usapan. DS Pulong will remain neutral," he told ABS-CBN News. 

This, after Cayetano and wife, Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano met with Duterte and Yap last Saturday as coup rumors against Cayetano persist in the run up to the scheduled enforcement of the term sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco in the last quarter of 2021.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Cong. Eric Go Yap (@congericgoyap) on

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Cong. Eric Go Yap (@congericgoyap) on

While ABS-CBN and other media initially reported that the meeting took place in Davao based on the location tags of Yap's Instagram posts, Yap clarified to ABS-CBN on Monday that the meeting actually took place in Manila. 

Pictures of the meeting were posted on Yap’s Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/congericgoyap. The pictures on Instagram were posted Saturday. 

Yap explained that his IG account maybe on autolocation tagging.

He said the meeting was just a social call and nothing about work was discussed. 

Deputy Speaker Duterte, son of President Rodrigo Duterte, sent tongues wagging with his controversial text message the other week where he threatened to have the Mindanao bloc of congressmen declare the speakership and deputy speakerships vacant last Monday—a move that never happened.

The day prior, Rep. Duterte issued a statement clarifying that he is staying out of the discussions on the budget and the speakership, noting that anything he says or does may reflect on his father.

"The text message that I sent to another lawmaker — and is now making the rounds — was an expression of my personal dismay upon hearing the concerns of my fellow lawmakers. It was the same message that I sent after one congressman from the Visayas bloc dragged my name into the issue even after I have already strongly made myself clear over this issue," he said. 

"Now as Congress continues to be hounded by the issue of budget — something that finds its way up to the current House leadership, how it treats its members, how it approves allocations and budgets with fairness or lack of it — let me reiterate my position. I do not want to get involved, however, I wish to help my fellow lawmakers find answers to their questions or remedies to the budget that they proposed for their people."

Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves earlier raised the matter of the allocation of funds for projects per district and pointed out that Cayetano's home turf of Taguig and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte's home province of Camarines Sur received about P8 billion and P11 billion in the 2021 budget respectively.

Yap meanwhile said some of these were 2020 projects that were discontinued because the funds had to be used for pandemic response. These projects were instead included in the 2021 budget.

Yap said this is the case for Taguig.

"Yung Taguig kasi karamihan doon FLR (for later release) eh kaya hindi mo siya masasabing new projects. 'Yun 'yung mga last year na project na imbes na mapunta this year na 2020, nangyari may mga FLR nilagay sa 2021. Kung titingnan mo ang new projects ng Taguig, di po siya ganun kalaki epecially mga kampo, mga bases po nakakarga po lahat 'yun," he pointed out.

(In the case of Taguig, many of those were 'for later release' which is why you can't say they are new projects. Those were projects last year, but instead of being implemented this year 2020, what happened was they were classified as FLR in 2021. If you'll look at the new projects in Taguig, the amount is not that big, especially the camps--the bases will carry them.)

On Wednesday, during the interpellation of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Public Works Usec. Maria Catalina Cabral said that the total amount for all projects marked "For Later Release" under 2020 amounted to P271 billion. Half of these would be funded this year and the rest were to be funded next year.

Zarate however pointed out that there seemed to be an inconsistency because the Department of Budget and Management also reported that it had already released 92.3 percent of the 2020 Budget.

"As of June 2020, the DBM said it has already released 92.3 percent of our national budget for 2020. So ibig sabihin ba nito, na despite this pandemic, lahat ng proyekto napropose for 2020 ay nai-release naman yung budget at gumana? (So does this mean that despite this pandemic, all of the projects proposed for 2020 had their budgets released?)" he said.

Public Works Sec. Mark Villar said that with "regards to the FLR there's still some portion of that that has to be released."

"Of course, I cannot comment directly on the numbers of the DBM," he said.