Duterte to meet rivals Cayetano, Velasco to tackle proposed 2021 budget

Published October 13, 2020, 12:07 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

After the Palace insisted the Chief Executive was staying out of the conflict in the House of Representatives, President Duterte is set to meet with two warring congressional leaders at noon Tuesday to tackle the proposed 2021 national budget.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens as Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco shares some remarks during a meeting with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and several members of the House of Representatives at the Malacañang Golf (MALAGO) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on September 29, 2020.

Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who have been at odds over House speakership, have called to a meeting with the President, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has called Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco for a meeting at 12:30pm in Malago today regarding the passage of the 2021 budget,” Roque said.

A majority of lawmakers earlier elected Velasco as the new House Speaker Monday, effectively replacing Cayetano. The election of the new Speaker, attended by more than 180 congressmen, was held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.

Cayetano however rejected the election of Velasco as Speaker, saying the assembly was illegal since it was held outside the Batasang Pambansa.

The change of leadership came ahead of the special session called by the President to ensure the timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget. The P4.5 trillion spending bill has been certified as urgent by the President to avoid delays in its passage during the special session this week.

The Palace prefers the passage of a new 2021 budget instead of operating on a reenacted budget since it needs the funds to enhance efforts to respond to the pandemic and facilitate the country’s recovery.

Earlier, the President threatened to intervene if the lawmakers will not resolve their impasse and pass the budget proposal for next year.

On Monday, Roque said the President was exasperated with the politicking in the House of Representatives, adding he was not taking sides on the leadership conflict. He said the President wanted the lawmakers to focus on the approval of the 2021 budget measure.

Once the budget is passed, Roque claimed that lawmakers can discuss the conflict, saying “may the best man win for the Speakership.”