Duterte warns House to solve leadership issue
By Ella Dionisio
President Rodrigo Duterte Thursday night warned Congress to solve the leadership impasse that may affect the passage of the 2021 P4.5 trillion national budget or else he will solve the problem.
In a televised message, Duterte appealed especially to the members of the House of Representative to prioritize the needs of the Filipino during this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Think of the Filipinos in the hospital right now and needs medicine and the Filipinos that are now dying… I’m just appealing to you,” he said.
Duterte said that if the speakership issue will not be settled,
While he thanked the Congress for the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, he added: “We always forget that there is something more higher than just delay or maneuvering in Congress because everybody wants to be speaker.''
“I am not threatening anyone, I don’t have an ambition to threaten you…. But what I’m saying is if you don’t solve the problem, I will solve the problem for you,” Duterte said.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano approved the budget on second reading on October 6 and suspended sessions until November 16. Cayetano formed a small group of lawmakers to accept committee and individual amendments to prepare for the third and final reading.
But Cayetano's move was said to be a ploy to avoid a possible election for the speakership on October 14 where he will be challenged by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
The national budget must be signed by Duterte before January 1, 2021 as it is the first budget that has measures ito allow the government to respond to COVID-19 crisis.
“What I want to tell (Cayetano and Velasco) in one straight statement, either you resolve the issue on your impasse there and pass the budget legally and constitutionally or if you cannot, I will do it,” Duterte said.
“I’m not going to give timeline, only a dictator would do that… What I want is for you to fix (the problem)… If I see that there will be a delay… derailment of government service I will- I said- solve the problem for you,” he added.
Duterte asked for understanding and said he will not apologize for saying what he said.
“We are all on the same dream and that is really by itself and alone- it is already an honor- it’s a dream fulfilled for any Filipino to serve this country… Let’s keep that in mind and we will see in the next few days if there is something we can hope for… If none, I will do my thing,” he said.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said if need arises, Duterte can ask for a special session.
“There is a December 14 adjournment for Christmas in Congress. If needed, after the 14th, we will then call for a special session,” Roque said.
While he previously said that the sudden suspension of House session will not have any effect on the passage of the P4.5 trillion national budget, Roque said the approval of the House version of the budget by November is ''delayed.''
“It’s delayed… but again, maybe the practice is different in the Senate. But in the House, once it was discussed on the committee level, that’s already done,” he said.
“Although it is the eventual decision of Congress, much of the discussion has already commenced and concluded at the committee level,” he added. DMS