MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he welcomes to Congress those trying to unseat him on October 14, telling them they can work together on the 2021 budget instead.
In a Facebook live video on Wednesday, Cayetano responded to reported plans by allies of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to come to Congress on the 14th to enforce their term-sharing agreement.
"Welcome po ang aming mga katunggali, sabi nila full force daw silang pupunta sa October 14, full force kayo pumunta, pakidala yung kopya nyo ng budget upuan natin, magtrabaho po tayo," he said.
Cayetano said he is ready to stand aside as soon as his challenger can produce the signatures of a majority of lawmakers.
He said supporters of Velasco must come out as he called for an end to the Speakership row.
“Ang hirap po kasi yung nanggugulo, nanggugulo, chaos, intrigue, you have the numbers, we have the numbers, kahit ilang beses po ako magpapirma po dito, pumipirma, pag sa kabila po, kay Congressman Velasco, panay salita, walang warm bodies, walang pangalan, why dont you ask them to sign na categorically, sila na, dalhin mo rito, 160, 165, yung listahan, i-check ko lang kung wala ring nakapirma sa akin, kasi ito lang advice ko kay Congressman Velasco, pag ang pabaon mo ay salita, ang iuuwi mo ay balita, hindi puwedeng salita lang kasi dito po sa rules sa House of Representatives, you need majority of all members of Congress to elect a Speaker, and we're in a middle of a crisis, ilang linggo nang pinag-uusapan ang speakership, puwede bang tanggalin na natin sa topic yan, tapusin na natin. May numero ka, ipakita mo sa akin, wala kang numero, tumulong ka sa budget, start going to work, pumasok ka na, welcome ka dito, welcome lahat kayo," he said.
Cayetano said President Rodrigo Duterte had already asked Velasco to allow Cayetano to finish the budget before taking over.
“Ang sabi po ng Pangulo, kay Congressman Velasco, patapusin mo na si Alan sa December, wala namang may akalain na nitong COVID, yung konteksto nung pag-uusap, at ayaw magulo yung budget, si Congressman Velasco ang ayaw sumunod sa Pangulo. That's why the next day when I went back, very clear naman ang sinabi ko sa ating Pangulo, boss kung siya na ang gagawa ng budget siya na kasi gugulo pa kung dalawa pa. And very clear naman yung pagsabi sa akin and that's why that's what I am doing now," he said.
Cayetano also denied Velasco’s claims that his “barkada” or allies in the Lower House benefitted unfairly from the budget, citing Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy Alvarado as an example.
Alvarado claimed his district was among the lowest recipients of the budget.
“Yun pong distrito ko Speaker nasa one of the lowest kami na district, siguro nasa mga top 40 kami ng lowest budget pero siyempre nakikiusap po tayo sa ating mga agency, huwag po kalimutan yung lalawigan ng Bulacan at yung mga tao pong ipinaglalaban natin," he said.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Eric Yap said the 2021 budget will not favor anyone.
CAYETANO: SENATE TO BLAME IF 2020 BUDGET REENACTED
Meanwhile, Cayetano turned the tables on the Senate after Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed that there will be a reenacted budget because of how the House approved its version of the 2021 budget on second reading.
Cayetano said the Senate will have itself to blame if the budget is delayed.
He also asked the Senate to work overtime because of the pandemic.
"Two weeks ang bicam last year, so we can do it now na three days or four days. Mag-overtime tayo tutal COVID. Extraordinary times requires extraordinary measures. So magandang gabi po, we will report tomorrow para malinaw po sa lahat," he said.
Cayetano said the Senate was able to pass the budget in just over a week in the Aquino administration.
“Nov. 17 puwede na po sila. Double check ko lang po pero ang alam ko po nung si Senator Drilon ay chairman ng Committee on Appropriations parang mag-start ng Monday, the next Monday or Tuesday tapos na yung budget. Kung nagawa nila nung panahon ni PNoy na 8 to 9 days ang budget, ngayon po, they will have mga three weeks at least at kung bibilisan nila, two weeks," he said.
Cayetano also offered for congressmen and senators to work during the congressional recess on the budget.
"And then yung bicam naman po, ino-offer ko nga na during the break, mag-usap na po kami. We promised you all that it will be transparent at yun naman po ang ipinaglalaban ni Senator Lacson, na maging transparent," he added.
Cayetano also maintained there is nothing irregular with the creation of a panel to process proposed individual amendments of congressmen even after the bill was approved on second reading.
Lacson earlier said the national budget for next year is "as good as [a] reenacted" version of the current year's spending plan after the House leadership abruptly suspended session without transmitting the 2021 budget bill to the Senate.
The House of Representatives was supposed to approve the 2021 budget on final reading and pass it on to the Senate next week, but Cayetano and his allies have suspended session until next month, a day after Velasco - his rival for the speakership - sought to enforce a term-sharing agreement with him by October 14.
Last year, bickering in the House of Representatives also delayed the passage of the 2020 budget.
The Philippines was forced to operate on a reenacted budget in the first few weeks of 2020, before Duterte finally signed the current spending bill into law in February.
The month and a half delay of the signing of the budget led to slower economic growth for the country in the first quarter of 2020.