Deputy Speaker and presidential son Paolo Duterte has confirmed plans to oust his father’s ally, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, as complaints from lawmakers mount over the infrastructure budgets in their districts.
Paolo said in a statement yesterday that he was disappointed “over the fate of their respective allocations from the hands of the current House leadership.” He said that he didn’t want to get involved because he was the president’s son, but said that he had sent a message to a group of lawmakers to declare the Speaker and Deputy Speaker posts vacant today.
A motion to declare the speakership post vacant during the plenary session makes it formally possible for a House coup d’etat.
“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,” Paolo said in the same statement. Paolo first sent the message to his ally, ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap, who chairs the House committee on appropriations, before sending it in a Viber group chat.
“I already told you that I’ll keep mum [on the issue] because the Speaker [and his allies] aren’t talking to me anymore. Now I’m being dragged into this. I will ask the Mindanao bloc to declare the seat of Speaker and Deputy Speakers vacant this Monday. Mindanao will not die because of a lack of budget!” read the presidential son’s message in English and Filipino, which was sent to around 91 House members on Viber last Friday, Sept. 18.
The clash first started last week over the budget hearing of the Department of Public Works and Highways where some lawmakers complained over the “inequitable” allocation of infrastructure projects in their respective districts while alleging that there was favoritism in others. Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. questioned why Taguig City and Camarines Sur province, the home districts of Cayetano and his close ally Luis Raymund Villafuerte, are getting PHP8 billion (US$165 million) and PHP11 billion (US$227 million) respectively, much bigger than the PHP2 billion (US$41 million) alloted to his district.
Paolo told lawmakers that they “have the power to change the course of which the leadership is leading them,” and that he is willing to risk being removed from his post as repercussion.
“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.
Cayetano’s 15-month term as House Speaker will end on Oct. 18.
Last year, the presidential son and first-time congressman expressed desire to run for the House Speaker post, despite his father publicly announcing that he will resign from office if Paolo runs for the position. While Cayetano enjoys a warm relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte, Paolo and his sister Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte have been rumored to be at odds with the House Speaker for sometime.
Earlier this year, Sara strongly condemned the removal of Congressman Isidro Ungab from the chairmanship of the House appropriations committee, a key member of her political party. The move to oust Ungab was orchestrated by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
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