MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday sought to allay concerns that President Rodrigo Duterte's spat with senators would lead to a reenacted national budget for 2022.
Duterte has spent a huge chunk of his recent speeches attacking senators over their investigation of allegedly overpriced and substandard COVID-19 supplies, which he denies.
Asked if this could lead to a reenacted budget for 2022, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said, "I don’t think so."
"It’s not to the welfare of reelectionists, congressmen, and senators to have a reenacted budget," he told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
"Let’s face it, they have personal stakes in that budget and they will have to pass it because they need all the resources that they can get for the elections. And I want you to read between the lines," he continued.
Roque said lawmakers would also draw public ire "if they resort to politicking as an excuse not to pass a COVID-related budget."
"We’re relying on the budget for next year also to deal with the ongoing pandemic. And if they are not able to pass it on time, the fault will lie on Congress and not the President," he said.
Duterte earlier this week claimed senators were threatening the national budget "because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings."
"Reduce it (budget) by one third, I challenge you. Huwag kang magtakot, gawin mo. O i-zero budget mo ang Office of the President," he said.
"Aabot ba 'yang pera ninyo kung hindi magdaan sa akin? Eh kung hindi ako mag-release? Tit for tat. Akala ninyo kayo lang ang marunong."
(Don't be afraid, do it. Or even allocate a zero budget for the Office of the President. Will your money reach you if it does not pass through me, when I am the one who releases that? Tit for tat. You think you are the only ones who know.)
Senators have denied using the probe for politics and said they were only fulfilling their constitutional duty.