Fed up with intramurals at the House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night urged speakership rivals House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to resolve their leadership tussle or else he would fix the problem himself.
“Either you resolve the issue sa impasse ninyo diyan (on your impasse) and pass the budget legally and constitutionally. Pag hindi ninyo ginawa, ako ang gagawa para sa inyo (If you fail to do it, I’ll do it for you),” Duterte said in a taped speech.
Duterte’s threat came after senators warned that the move of Cayetano and his allies to abruptly suspend its session at the House of Representatives would guarantee a reenacted national budget for 2021, which would be a blow to the government’s financial capacity to address the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson said the sudden suspension of sessions in the House is related to the speakership row between Cayetano and Velasco as it preempts any attempt to snatch away the leadership from the former at least until sessions resume on November 16.
Duterte brokered a term-sharing agreement in 2019 where Cayetano would serve as the Speaker until October 2020 while Velasco would supposedly take over and assume the position until 18th Congress ends in 2022.
However, Duterte said he no longer wanted to be in between the tug-of-war taking place between his two allies if would not mean putting the proposed 2021 budget in jeopardy.
“Huwag naman sana ninyo sobrahan ang laro sa Congress na yung budget mismo ang nalagay sa alanganin (Don’t play too much in Congress to the point that the budget is at risk),” he said.
Duterte said he would not give them a deadline, but would step in once he sees the possibility of the proposed 2021 budget being delayed.
“I am not going to give a timeline. Mga diktador lang gumagawa ng ganun. Gusto ko na ayusin ninyo (Only dictators do that. I want you to resolve the problem). If and when I see that there will be a delay and it will result in the derailment of government service I will, I said, solve the problem for you,” he said.
He said he was not scaring them, pointing out that there were more important concerns that needed to be addressed rather than the issue of who gets to be the House Speaker.
“We always forget that there is something more, higher than just the delaying or maneuvering in Congress because everybody wants to be Speaker,” he said.
Think about the sick, the dying
Duterte appealed to the speakership rivals to consider Filipinos who were suffering and dying from Covid-19.
“Ang pakiusap ko, ayusin ninyo at isipin ninyo ang Pilipino na nasa ospital ngayon na kailangan ng medisina at yung mga Pilipinong mamatay ngayon (My appeal is, resolve it and think about Filipinos in the hospital who need medicine and Filipinos who are dying),” he said.
He said the government already had enough problems dealing with the health crisis, especially since a vaccine has yet to be developed.
“Ang gobyerno natin maraming problema. ‘Yang Covid na ‘yan, hindi ‘yan umaalis ng Pilipinas matagal na (The government has a lot of problems. Covid has been here for a long time). So people are dying, people are sick, people need medicines at marami pang ibang sabihin ko sainyo, alam ninyo ‘yan. I will not enumerate kasi alam ninyo, kayo ang nag-prepare ng budget nga diyan e (and there are more problems. You know them all. I will not enumerate because you know you prepared the budget),” he said.
Duterte noted that he could not understand why he would still hear reports about patients dying because they are unable to pay for medicines despite being admitted in government hospitals.
“Hindi ko talaga maintindihan isa pa ito na may mamatay sa ospital ng gobyerno dahil walang medisina. Huwag na huwag akong makarinig ng ganun sa totoo lang. Ang Kongreso must be generous enough to give us the Bayanihan Act to Heal as One lahat ng pera nandiyan. Wala pa naman akong kalokohan akong nakita (I really don’t understand how people die in government hospitals because there’s no medicine. I really hate hearing about them to be honest. The Congress must be generous enough to give us the Bayanihan Act where all the money is),” he said.
Duterte said people will not remember the players involved in causing a government to go “haywire” but they will always remember the President under whose term it happened.
“Dito sa ating bayan na kung magka letse letse, hindi sila magtanong kung sino ang may kagagawan o (In our country, when things go haywire, they won’t ask who did it or who is) responsible for the mess that we are in right now. Ang maalaala lang nila, ‘panahon ni Duterte napakabaho’, kita mo kung ganun. They do not mention ah yung si Alan sa Congress o si Lord sa ano, wala. Ang sabihin administrasyon ni Duterte (What they’ll remember is ‘during the time of the President was stinky.’ They do not mention oh it’s Alan in Congress or Lord. They’ll say it happened during the Duterte administration),” he said.
He said he did not want to be take part in a squabble only to have to take the blame when he is no longer in office.
“Huwag ninyo ako idamay sa away ninyo at tapos (Don’t get me involved in your fight and then) in the future people will be asking what happened to the administration of Duterte or the administration of Arroyo or of Aquino or of Ramos. Hindi man sila magtanong kung sino yung mga tao doon responsible for the haywire administration of a certain period gaya ko sa panahon ko (They won’t ask who were responsible for causing the administration to go haywire during my term),” he said.
Duterte, meanwhile, said he would not apologize for reprimanding his allies in Congress.
“I will not apologize for saying this because indeed we are all of the same dream and that is really by itself and alone it is already an honor, it is a dream fulfilled for any lawyer, for any Filipino for that matter to serve his country,” he said.