MANILA – Discontent over the alleged inequitable distribution of the proposed 2021 national budget led to the ouster of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
“What really triggered the greater part of [Cayetano's] downfall in this battle for Speakership is the discontent of majority of congressmen with how funds for local district[s] are being managed or being spread, the inequalities that [go] with it wherein a small group of congressmen were favored, who get more funds for their district compared to a greater majority,” Valenzuela City 2nd District Rep. Eric Martinez told ANC’s “Matters of Fact”.
With dissatisfaction bubbling up, compounded with President Rodrigo Duterte’s stern warning for the timely passage of next year’s spending bill, lawmakers across political parties rallied support to install Marinduque Lone District Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco to power, he said.
Martinez, who is allied with the newly installed Speaker, said the President’s statement prompted lawmakers to get their acts together.
“The President mentioned in a press conference the frustration. These are the words set, ‘Finish budget legally and constitutionally,’” he said.
As Velasco takes over chamber’s top post, Martinez said the priority is to pass the P4.5-trillion budget, which contains the country’s pandemic war chest, and changes in House committee chairmanships should take a back seat.
Martinez, who chaired the committee on youth and sports development, was removed from his post last week amid wrangling over the speakership.
He said House panel leaders should not fear removal from their positions if they share Velasco’s vision.
Asked what role Cayetano will play after being removed from the chamber’s helm, he said the Taguig-Pateros lawmaker could become part of the minority.
“The reading that I see is most probably Speaker Cayetano would go to the minority. [He] would be part of a genuine opposition in Congress. I think that would be healthy for us,” Martinez said.