House OKs P4.5-trillion 2021 budget bill on 2nd reading amid leadership wrangling


Posted at Oct 06 2020 05:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2020 06:00 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's motion, terminating deliberations on the spending plan amid his leadership tussle with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

"Applying section 55 of our rules, I move to terminate the period of debate on House Bill 7727, or General Appropriations Bill (GAB)," Cayetano said as he rounded up a privilege speech that again touched on his wrangling with Velasco for the speakership.

Along with this, Cayetano created a panel to entertain committee and individual amendments. Lawmakers may submit their proposed amendments until November 5. 

In an "ayes and nayes" vote, majority of the lawmakers present in the plenary and via Zoom affirmed Cayetano's move. 

Another solon then moved to suspend the House session until November 16, which was also affirmed. 

This developed as Velasco sought to enforce a term-sharing agreement with Cayetano brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, which was to take effect on October 14. 

He also accused Cayetano of holding the 2021 budget hostage so he could stay at the House helm.

In his speech, Cayetano again said he sought to stay put until December for the sake of the budget, but that Velasco would not give way. 

Under the "gentleman's agreement" that Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano will lead the House for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until October, while Velasco would assume leadership for the next 21 months. 

Last Wednesday, Cayetano offered to resign, but a majority of lawmakers rejected his move. 

Meanwhile, Malacañang said it welcomed the chamber's "timely approval" of GAB but maintained it had no intention to interfere in an "internal matter."

"That is a purely internal matter of the HOR even as we thank the House for their timely passage of the 2021 budget," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

— Reports from RG Cruz, Jamaine Punzalan, and Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News