Fri. Aug 6th, 2021

MANILA — The House of Representatives on Monday removed Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab as chairperson of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations amid reports of a supposed ouster plot against Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

During the plenary session, Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin Remulla moved to elect ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Yap as Ungab’s replacement.

Also replaced was Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Leachon as chairman of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). He was replaced by Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo as HRET chair.

The ouster of House leaders from key positions came following Cayetano’s warning to remove committee chairmen who have been plotting to “sabotage” the budget to push forward their preferred Speaker.

Cayetano earlier bared that Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has already been offering chairmanships and funding allocations for congressmen once the latter takes over the top post in the chamber.

“Umalis muna kayo sa committees n’yo, sa chairmanship n’yo, bumalik na lang kayo ‘pag Speaker na si Congressman Velasco (You should leave your committees, chairmanships, first, and just come back once Congressman Velasco becomes Speaker),” Cayetano said.

“I promise the congressmen na (that [the removal should be]) by conscience and consensus-based. So ayaw ko naman na magdikta at magtanggal. Pero kung actively na sinasabotahe at meron kaming investigation ongoing ngayon lalo sa budget, sa pondo (I don’t want to dictate or to remove anyone. But, if they are actively sabotaging the budget and funds, especially now that there is an ongoing investigation [then I have to remove them]),” he added.

In July last year, President Rodrigo Duterte brokered a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, wherein the former would lead the House for 15 months up to October this year, while the latter would serve the remaining 21 months of the Speaker’s three-year term of office.

Velasco, for his part, dismissed as “baseless” and “sly innuendos being peddled by certain camps with vested interests” the supposed coup plan to change the speakership at the House.

“To my kababayans, these reports are far from the truth. The reports were meant to create deep division within the House of Representatives and its members, destroy camaraderie, distract lawmakers from fulfilling their mandate, and more importantly, derail the key legislative agenda of the Duterte administration,” Velasco said. (iam/

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