Paolo Duterte distances himself from House solons’ spat over budget allocation

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Paolo Duterte, the congressman son of the president, said he is distancing himself from issues arising from budget allocations for 2021 which his fellow congressmen have expressed discontent with.

Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte issued a statement clarifying the text messages he wrote which circulated among lawmakers. The messages said that he will ask his allies to move for leadership change in the House of Representatives during Monday’s session.

“The text message that I sent to another lawmaker – and is now making the rounds – was an expression of my personal dismay upon hearing the concerns of my fellow lawmakers,” Rep. Duterte said.

“It was the same message that I sent after one Congressman from the Visayas bloc dragged my name into the issue even after I have already strongly made myself clear over this issue,” he added.

He said he wants to stay out of the matter as he is being careful as the son’s president.

“Although I am an ex officio member being a Deputy Speaker, I have respectfully and clearly told them that their concern is something that I would rather stay away from — out of delicadeza because my father is the President,” Duterte said.

“Most of these concerns shrouded doubts over the process and mistrust of the lawmakers ruling the House, those who are acting as if they are bigger than their colleagues. Respectfully, I told them that I did not want to get involved. “

“I leave this issue to the members of Congress as I believe that it is within their rights as elected officials to come up with a favorable solution to an issue that could badly impact the development of their districts and their people,” he said.

During a budget hearing, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. confronted officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways about rumors he heard that Taguig City and Camarines Sur (CamSur) were getting the largest slice of their budget pie for next year.

Taguig City has districts being represented by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his congresswoman spouse. Meanwhile, one of CamSur’s districts is represented at the House by close Cayetano ally Rep. LRay Villafuerte. Villafurte’s son, Migz, is also the province’s governor. 

In response to the accusation, Villafuerte called Teves a “rumormonger” for raising concerns based on “hearsay.”

“In the first place, it does not befit an honorable gentleman like Congressman Teves to act like a blab or gossipmonger in spreading what he himself had admitted to be plain hearsay… Why peddle something malicious that he himself knew wasn’t factual?” said Villafuerte. 

Villafuerte linked Teves’ accusation with an alleged plot concerning the House leadership.

“It is clear as day that Congressman Teves has launched this chicanery on the basis of mere hearsay as part of the sinister ploy hatched by the Velasco camp, in cahoots with former Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, to wreck Speaker Cayetano’s commitment to fast-track the approval of the 2021 GAA by hopefully finishing the committee and plenary deliberations on the budget in record time by end-September,” Villafuerte said. 

Under a “gentleman’s agreement,” Cayetano is set to transfer the House leadership to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco in October.

The presidential son said he is ready if a leadership change in the House of Representatives happens soon.

“If the members of Congress will push for a change in House leadership, as a reaction to their sentiments, obviously I would be among the casualties because I am a deputy speaker. I am ready to accept the consequences,” he said.

“As much as I am part of Congress with a duty to be involved in the goings on inside, I cannot discount the fact that I am a Duterte. Anything that comes out of my actions or mouth could be construed or manipulated as having the blessing of my father. And so I would rather suffer or work in silence rather than sacrifice the supposed independence of the House from the Palace.”