MANILA – The House of Representatives immediately suspended its session on Monday after convening for only 18 minutes amid the alleged coup threat against Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu declared the suspension of session until Tuesday following the roll call of members and the first reading of several measures.

No motion was raised to declare leadership posts, including the speakership, at the lower chamber vacant.

Presidential son and Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte confirmed on Sunday that he had sent House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap a message that he would ask the Mindanao bloc to move to declare the position of Speaker Cayetano and 22 Deputy Speakers vacant during Monday’s session.

The House leadership row was allegedly triggered by the disagreements among congressmen over inequitable budget allocations for their respective districts under the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

Yap, however, clarified that the recent squabble was not because of pork barrel or lump sum funds, contrary to the claim of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.

“Hindi ko naintindihan kay Congressman Zarate bakit nya sinasabing pork yun. Unang-una, yung mga pinag-aawayan is yung para sa parochial concerns (I don’t understand why Congressman Zarate is saying that it is pork. First of all, the squabble is about parochial concerns),” Yap said.

Yap said the budgetary allocations for congressional districts are mostly meant to fund infrastructure projects, such as roads, hospitals, and bridges, among others.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020, while Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco would take over and assume the highest position at the House of Representatives for the remaining 21 months or until 18th Congress ends in 2022. (PNA)

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