MANILA – Saying members of the House of Representatives seemed to have settled the speakership dispute, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said lawmakers have to respond to President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to pass the proposed PHP4.5-trillion budget for 2021 without delay.
“Tingin ko tapos na naman po iyong controversy ‘no at ang talagang paulit-ulit na pakiusap ni Presidente, kinakailangan mapasa ang ating Covid-19 budget on time (I think the controversy is over and the President has been repeatedly reminding them that they need to pass the) Covid-19 budget on time,” Roque said in a virtual presser.
Roque made the statement after Duterte and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his family met in Malacañang on Wednesday night.
It was also the same day House members voted to reject the offer of Cayetano to resign from his post amid the speakership row stemming from a 15-21 term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. Duterte brokered the agreement in July last year.
During the meeting, Roque said Duterte simply asked Cayetano to make sure that the 2021 budget, which will be used for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response, is passed on time.
“Ang bilin po niya, kinakailangan mapasa talaga ang budget sa lalong mabilis na panahon dahil nakapaloob po sa budget iyong ating Covid-19 response (He told him that the budget really needs to be passed on time because it includes the budget for the government’s Covid-19 response),” he said.
Roque said Duterte will no longer interfere in the House speakership row between his two allies because he recognizes the vote of its members.
“Well, uulitin ko po ang paninindigan ng ating Presidente, iyong pagpili po ng liderato ng Kamara ay isang internal matter para sa Kamara de Representante at nirirespeto naman po ng Presidente ang naging desisyon ng Kamara na ibinasura po iyong pagri-resign ni Speaker Alan Cayetano (I will just repeat the stand of the President, selecting a leader in Congress is an internal matter of the House of Representatives and he respects the decision of the House to reject the resignation of Speaker Alan Cayetano),” he said.
On Tuesday, Duterte met Cayetano and Velasco to settle the House leadership row between the two.
Duterte wanted his two supporters to honor the term-sharing agreement wherein Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker until October 2020.
Velasco would supposedly assume the position from October 14 until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.