Stop bickering, Speaker tells colleagues

MANILA, Philippines – As controversies surrounding executive and legislative lump sum funds remain unresolved, Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr on Wednesday, October 16, asked his colleagues in the House of Representatives to stop bickering and focus on their tasks.

"Let's get down to business. Anyway, these things are already pending in the legal departments of the government. These things are being investigated in the Ombudsman's office," Belmonte said.

Belmonte's statement came as solons continued to deliver privilege speeches in Congress over lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the executive department's booster fund known as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The legality of both the PDAF and DAP are being challenged before the Supreme Court. And at least 5 lawmakers face plunder and malversation charges before the Ombudsman for the alleged misuse of millions worth of lawmakers' funds. (READ: Plunder complaints vs Estrada, JPE, Revilla)

Despite the controversies that have rocked both chambers of Congress, Belmonte said the House is still on track to accomplish their priority bills. 

"The whole political system partly thrives on controversy," Belmonte said. "We can't just say we can't do our jobs because of controversy."

On Monday, October 21, the House is set to pass the proposed 2014 national budget on 3rd and final reading. 

Belmonte gave assurances at least 95% of lawmakers will be present for Monday's session.

On Wednesday, Congress adjourned just a few minutes after opening the session without calling the roll. 

The Speaker said he already anticipated a number of congressmen to be absent due to the weather and the current crisis in Cebu and Bohol in the aftermath of the earthquake-