MANILA - The Filipino people who are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic are among the victims in the ongoing speakership tussle in the House of Representatives, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
By allegedly railroading the proposed 2021 budget, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies in the lower chamber have deprived Filipinos of a transparent spending package that is responsive to the health crisis, AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin told ANC's "Matters of Fact."
"We are in a pandemic and we should have a 2021 budget that's responsive to that. We have an economic and health crisis," said the lawmaker, who was stripped committee chairmanship on economic affairs.
"By railroading this and not allowing the public to see the debates and their representatives participating in the debates, then how can we be sure its responsive?"
Cayetano on Tuesday terminated the debates on the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) that consequently suspended sessions until middle of November.
The congressmen approved only on second reading the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget upon Cayetano's motion.
Garin, who is allied with Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, slammed Cayetano's moves to cling to his post as "unparliamentary."
"I always stood by respeto lang sa kapuwa congressman. We have to hold ourselves in a certain level of standard to be deserving of this position. That doesn't give you a right to malign anybody," she said.
Her removal from a panel membership was also "unfair and inequitable," said Garin.
Quezon 4th District Rep. Helen Tan of Nationalist People's Coalition and Valenzuela City 2nd District Rep. Eric Martinez of PDP-Laban were also booted as chairpersons of the committees on health, and youth and sports, respectively.
Garin said Cayetano, who should step down as speaker on Oct. 14, only risked alienating more House members.
"Because it seems like we are abandoning tradition. We are abandoning honor... We are trying to involve them (congressmen) in a fight for speakership, which is actually between the 2 of them. It is insulting to each congressmen," she said.
Despite the "circus" in the lower chamber, Garin is bullish Velasco will take over the House leadership, stressing they have the numbers to unseat Cayetano.
"It's not over. Many things will still happen. I would advise Cong. Velasco to continue on because this is what the President wanted," she said.
Under the term-sharing deal that President Rodrigo Duterte brokered last year, Cayetano will lead the House of Representatives for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until October, while Velasco will serve for the remaining 21 months.