MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is not taking sides in the leadership fight in the House of Representatives and wants lawmakers to set aside partisanship so they can pass the budget, Malacanang said on Sunday.
“Uulitin ko po: hindi po nanghihimasok, hindi po nakikialam ang Presidente sa nangyayaring girian para sa puwesto ng Speaker diyan po sa Mababang Kapulungan,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a live broadcast on state broadcaster PTV4.
(I repeat: the President is not joining or interfering in the rivalry for the leadership of the Lower House.)
Roque said this after PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party, came out with a statement on Sunday saying Duterte wanted rival factions in the House to respect the term-sharing agreement between incumbent Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco who is supposed to take over on Oct. 15.
Roque however insisted that the President is not taking sides and just wants lawmakers to pass the budget.
“Ang panawagan po ng Presidente sa ating mga kongresista, itigil na po ang pulitika, ipasa ang national budget. At hindi po nakikisali, nanghihimasok ang Presidente sa pagpili ng House Speaker na sana po ay isantabi na muna nang umusad ang proseso ng pagpasa ng national budget,” said Roque.
(The President’s call to our congressmen is to set aside politics, pass the national budget. And the President is not joining, interfering in the selection of the House Speaker which hopefully will be set aside so that the process of passing the budget can move forward.)
Roque said Duterte expects the Lower House to hold a special session from Oct. 13 to 16 to speed up the passage of the budget.
Duterte has certified the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget bill as urgent, Roque said on Friday.
“Either you resolve the issue sa impasse n’yo d’yan and pass the budget legally, constitutionally. ‘Pag hindi n’yo ginawa, ako ang gagawa para sa inyo,” Duterte said in a taped public address on Thursday.