'Dalang-dala na:' Duterte pleads House to pass budget before more speakership talk

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President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte is fed up with the speakership drama in the House of Representatives and appealed for the passage of the 2021 budget before pulling other political maneuvers, his spokesperson said on Monday.

"Ang sinabi po talaga ni Presidente: natagam, dalang-dala na ako sa pulitika [The President really said he's fed up with the politicking]," Harry Roque said in a briefing.

"Any talk of speakership will delay the passage of the 2021 budget," he added, noting that the spending plan is crucial for sustained COVID-19 response.

Duterte called for a special session on Tuesday to Friday for the House to finish plenary debates and pass the ₱4.506-trillion national budget before Congress goes on a month-long break.

Roque had said the President will be staying out of the speakership tussle a year after he brokered a term-sharing deal between Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Tensions escalated in recent weeks as Cayetano was supposed to vacate the top seat in line with his prescribed 15 months in power, but he suspended plenary sessions until next month.

"Inaasahan ng Presidente na sang-ayon sa proklamasyon na ito, magtitipon-tipon po ang lahat ng miyembro ng Kongreso bukas para talakayin ang budget at hindi po ang politika," Roque said.

"Pano madi-discuss ang budget bukas kung ang magiging issue ay sino sa kanila ang namumuno?" he added.

[Translation: The President expects that with this proclamation, House members will show up in the Batasan tomorrow to talk budget, not politics. How can they discuss the budget tomorrow if their issue is who is their leader?]

Roque came out with a statement on Sunday that reiterated Duterte's call to set aside politics for now.

On Monday, he acknowledged that this statement was in anticipation of the caucus by Velasco's allies at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, which mimicked a formal session at the Batasan plenary.

In 2018, similar developments in the House led to a delay in Duterte's State of the Nation Address. That time, Congress also saw the 2019 national budget delayed for four months, which led to a reenacted budget and slower economic growth that year.

READ: Senators see reenacted budget but Cayetano insists timely passage possible

The Presidential Communications Operations Office aired the Monday caucus on Facebook live right before Roque's briefing, but he said he was not aware if Palace crew were indeed there.

"The President expects his allies, those who consider him still as their leader, to convene tomorrow to discuss the budget and pass it on or before the 16th," Roque added. "Wala na siyang pakialam [He doesn't care anymore], to each his own... May the best man win the speakership."

The special caucus saw Velasco elected as new House Speaker, with a new secretary general and sergeant-at-arms.