Philippine national budget 2024

Romualdez denies politicking after House removes Sara Duterte’s confidential fund

Dwight de Leon

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Romualdez denies politicking after House removes Sara Duterte’s confidential fund

LEADERS. Vice President Sara Duterte and Speaker Martin Romualdez during the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on August 8, 2022.

House press and public affairs bureau

'That's a bit too much speculation,' Romualdez says, reacting to theories that the House's removal of Duterte's confidential fund is an early infighting move related to the 2028 presidential elections

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Martin Romualdez brushed aside suspicions that the House of Representatives’ decision to strip Vice President Sara Duterte of her confidential funds for 2024 was politically motivated.

Romualdez denies politicking after House removes Sara Duterte’s confidential fund

In a rare press conference on Thursday, October 5, Romualdez said observers who see the move as an early political maneuvering by him ahead of the 2028 elections are “reading too much into it.”

“That’s a bit too much speculation,” Romualdez insisted. “Under the circumstances, we felt it would be best that [the funds] be realigned to agencies and departments or areas we consider a priority.”

Romualdez even borrowed a line from Duterte who previously told lawmakers her office can live without confidential funds.

The relationship between the two have not been smooth in the past months.

An apparent feud spilled into the open in May in the aftermath of an internal quarrel in the House involving Romualdez and his mentor, former president and current Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Duterte, a close ally of Arroyo, did not take it lightly when the House unceremoniously stripped her of the senior deputy speakership post.

Duterte subsequently resigned from Lakas-CMD, the political party of the three of them, due to the “political toxicity” in the lower chamber.

Romualdez denies politicking after House removes Sara Duterte’s confidential fund

In June, Duterte deliberately refused to mention Marcos’ middle name – Romualdez – during an event, which some of the Speaker’s allies took offense with.

In July though, the two were seen walking arm in arm during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s sendoff to Malaysia, in an apparent attempt to show the public they have patched things up.

Duterte is requesting P650 million in combined confidential funds for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education for 2024.

The House leadership, however, decided to realign those funds to agencies protecting the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.