MANILA (UPDATE) — Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco lashed out Tuesday against his rival House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his "minions" for "railroading" the approval on the 2021 national budget in a bid to allegedly cling to the chamber's top post.
"[W]e highly denounce the unilateral acts of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his handful of allies... to the hurried approval of the 2021 national budget without the going through the budget process stipulated in the Constitution and the suspension of the plenary session until November 16, 2020," Velasco said in a statement.
The House of Representatives earlier in the day approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon Cayetano's motion, terminating deliberations on the spending plan amid his leadership tussle with 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.
According to Velasco, "Cayetano and his minions deserve collective condemnation... and should be held accountable" for their actions.
"The railroading is contrary to the Speaker’s commitment for a national spending package that is open, transparent and meaningful and beneficial for the Filipino people," he said.
Along with the passage of the GAB, an ally of Cayetano subsequently moved to suspend the sessions until Nov. 16. The motion was approved by lawmakers.
But according to Velasco, this "haphazard" act was against the Constitution.
"[This] haphazard declaration of the suspension of session... contradicts and violates the provisions of the Constitution on the inter-parliamentary courtesy, as Congress is composed of two chambers where suspension of that long period of time must be with consent of the Senate of the Philippines in accordance with Sec 16, Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution."
Velasco accused Cayetano of "maneuvering" House rules to hold on to Speakership.
Allies of Velasco last week threatened to unseat Cayetano should he refuse to relinquish his post on October 14, the date set for the change in House leadership.
"The foregoing acts manifest Speaker Cayetano’s extreme desire to hold on and hang on to power in clear defiance of President Duterte’s desire for the passage of fair and equitable budget that serves nothing but the interests of the Filipino people," Velasco said, adding the Speaker has "bastardized the institution" along the way.
"Speaker Cayetano, your time is up," he said.
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.
CAYETANO: CHANGE IN HOUSE LEADERSHIP CAN DISRUPT BUDGET DELIBERATIONS
In his privilege speech on Tuesday, Cayetano said disruptions that could be caused by a change of the House Speakership moved him to ask for the budget to be finished before any transition.
For Cayetano, Velasco should remember how disruptive this process is.
"That’s precisely why the President said, 'Pabayaan mo muna matapos ng December.' And si Cong. Velasco in his own infinite wisdom, because I think his name, for him it is a title. Hindi ka tunay na Lord, pangalan mo lang ‘yun. Just because you wish it, it won’t happen. Sabi n’ya, 'Believe me, Mr. President, walang mangyayari, hindi magkakagulo ang budget.' So sabi ko, 'Pare, hindi ba panahon n’yo n’ung gumulo ‘yung budget? ‘Di ba kakampi n’yo si Nograles, kalaban n’yo si Andaya, tapos kumampi ka kay President GMA? Kumampi naman si ano kay Alvarez. Oh, hindi ba, nagkagulo ‘yung budget? Tingin mo ba unicameral tayo? Eh hindi ba bicameral tayo? Hindi ba, as soon as the Senate sees na may away pork na ang nasa isip?' Sa media gan’un din. It’s sometimes unfair to us but that’s the reality. In front of the President, I told him, Lord, please, tell me how in this world you can say na hindi magkakagulo ang budget kung magpapalitan?” he said.
Cayetano also assured members of the House of Representatives that he will work on all their problems and vowed full transparency in the passage of the 2021 budget as he moved for its quick approval.
"It will be transparent. I will find a way to present the budget to you na walang taguan," he said.
The House of Representatives approved on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon Cayetano's motion, terminating deliberations on the spending plan amid his leadership tussle with Velasco.
- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News