Will presidential son Paolo Duterte make good on his threat to declare the top posts of the House of Representatives vacant?
Speculation abounds over Duterte’s seriousness in ousting House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano after he sent a text message to certain lawmakers threatening to declare the posts of Speaker and Deputy Speakers vacant during the plenary session on Monday, September 21.
In a statement Sunday (September 20), Duterte explained: “The text message that I sent to another lawmaker — and is now making the rounds — was an expression of my personal dismay upon hearing the concerns of my fellow lawmakers.”
Duterte, a first-term lawmaker representing Davao City, said he sent the message after a “congressman from the Visayas bloc dragged my name into the issue even after I have already strongly made myself clear over this issue.” He was apparently referring to Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Hr.
“Now as Congress continues to be hounded by the issue of budget — something that finds its way up to the current House leadership, how it treats its members, how it approves allocations and budgets with fairness or lack of it — let me reiterate my position,” Duterte said.
“I do not want to get involved, however, I wish to help my fellow lawmakers find answers to their questions or remedies to the budget that they proposed for their people,” he added.
Teves cried foul last week over the alleged unequal allocations for lawmakers in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) budget for 2021.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, an ally of Cayetano, linked Teves’ allegation to a supposed ploy by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco to delay the passage of next year’s national budget.
Duterte said he is hoping lawmakers will resolve the issue on the speakership and budget “before everything goes out of hand.”
“If the members of Congress will push for a change in House leadership, as a reaction to their sentiments, obviously I would be among the casualties because I am a deputy speaker. I am ready to accept the consequences,” he said.
“As much as I am part of Congress with a duty to be involved in the goings on inside, I cannot discount the fact that I am a Duterte,” Duterte added.
The presidential son said he would “rather suffer or work in silence rather than sacrifice the supposed independence of the House from the Palace.”