MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's move to approve the proposed 2021 budget on second reading and suspend session is a way to buy time for him to get the numbers to retain his position, an ally of his rival said Thursday.
Cayetano was supposed to lead the chamber for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress or until this month, while Velasco would assume leadership for the next 21 months.
Some 161 lawmakers so far have expressed support to Velasco, said Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador "Doy" Leachon, an ally of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco who is asserting his right for House Speakership.
"S'yempre (Of course) to buy time kasi kung magtatagal na naman (because the more time they have) there will be machinations they can do again to entice members to be on their side," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Sensing there will be elections, they suspended it. As a consequence, the budget is actually sidelined contrary to the directive of the President to fast track it."
Senators earlier warned that the passage of the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget may be delayed due to the House's decision.
The termination of session before Congress' break on October 15 prevented lawmakers from inspecting and participating in budget deliberations, Leachon said.
"With the termination of the sessions, (it was) not only unconstitutional but a violation of the rules," he said.
"It is very clear in the Constitution that the (general) appropriations bill shall emanate from the House of Congress. The Senate cannot proceed because the copy they have is actually the NEP (National Expenditure Program). They have to see first the GAB originating from the House."
The budget of 14 state agencies have yet to be scrutinized, including those of the health and education departments, Leachon said.
"Dapat malaman namin ang readiness ng departments na ito (We should know the readiness of these departments) with respect on how to make a rehabilitation program for the benefit of the Filipino people," he said.
"The people of this country are expecting a fair and equitable budget that would serve best the interest of our country considering this pandemic and in this time of crisis."