Shouting match erupts in House meeting over 2019 budget

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya got into a heated argument with his local rival Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte and House committee on appropriations chairperson Karlo Nograles over the proposed 2019 budget.

Villafuerte said Andaya and Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo attended the committee on appropriations’ meeting at 9 am on Monday, September 17, ahead of the scheduled plenary deliberations on the proposed P3.757-trillion budget next year.

Villafuerte said Andaya, Camarines Sur 1st District representative, told him not to speak when he was “trying to make a point” during the 9 am meeting. 

He was just bullying me, bullying Karlo Nograles, saying all these things, then marami pa siyang sinabing below the belt. Tapos hinamon niya ko ng suntukan. So lumalabas masama ang ugali ni Andaya,” said Villafuerte. 

(He was just bullying me, bullying Karlo Nograles, saying all these things, then he said many other things that were below the belt.  

He insinuated that Andaya’s anger was supposedly caused by the latter’s looming rivalry with his son, Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte, in the 2019 elections in their province.

Nakita niya ko, pikon. He’s running against my son. Siguro alam niyang ‘di siya mananalo. But my point is, dapat ‘di natin dalhin ang politics sa Congress. Kapag may local fight, dapat sa local lang,” said Villafuerte. 

(He saw me and he got pissed. He’s running against my son. Maybe he knows he won’t win. But my point is, we shouldn’t bring politics in Congress. If it’s a local fight, it should stay local.)

Nograles did not want comment on the matter. Andaya, meanwhile, refused to tag the incident as a shouting match and said it was merely a “spirited debate” among lawmakers. 

Wala, wala. ‘Yong nangyari kanina, usapang lalaki ’yon. Hindi naman ako kiss and tell. Wala namang pinapakitang medico-legal. We’re a deliberative body and once in awhile we have a spirited or emphatic point to raise and that’s what happened,” said Andaya. 

(It’s nothing, it’s nothing. What happened earlier was a conversation between men. I don’t do kiss and tell. There’s no medico-legal. We’re a deliberative body and once in awhile we have a spirited or emphatic point to raise and that’s what happened.)

Wala kaming tinatakot, binu-bully, lalong-lalo na the Speaker was present the whole time sa proceedings (We didn’t intimate or bully anyone, especially because Speaker was present the whole time during the proceedings),” he added. 

This is the second time that Villafuerte and Andaya engaged in a shouting match. In April, the two rivals were caught on video in a confrontation at a police station in Pili town, Camarines Sur.  

The House leadership has already postponed the start of the plenary debates on the 2019 budget to Tuesday, September 18.

Who called the meeting? 

Nograles and Andaya also clashed over who had called this 9 am meeting in the first place.

Nograles said the House leadership wanted him to meet his panel to supposedly approve a second committee report on the 2019 budget. 

Andaya denied this, saying it was Nograles who called for the meeting instead. When Arroyo found out about it, Andaya said she decided to attend the meeting herself.  

Still, the Majority Leader said it was Arroyo who presided over the meeting, not Nograles.

After this meeting, reports surfaced that the House leadership already wanted to replace Nograles as appropriations panel chairperson. But Andaya later said the Davao City 1st District representative will get to keep his post.  

The Majority Leader later revealed that Arroyo is seeking a review of an alleged P50 billion worth of “misplaced” funds inserted into the 2019 budget. 

Nograles and former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, both denied such an insertion was made in the 2019 budget.

On Monday afternoon, Nograles, Villafuerte, and PBA Representatives Jericho Nograles and Mark Sambar also met with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. 

Also spotted leaving the meeting were Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo and Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte. 

But the Cabinet secretaries only said they met with Nograles in preparation for the 2019 budget’s originally scheduled sponsorship at the plenary. They refused to discuss other details of the meeting. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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