The word war over the 2021 budget got a little too personal and ugly between Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte and Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr.
The two Duterte-allied congressmen decided to bring their spat to the Viber group of House members late Thursday night, September 17.
They accused each other of being gay – as if being a homosexual is supposed to be wrong.
Rappler saw screenshots of the heated exchange, which was then confirmed by Teves himself and another lawmaker present in the chat room.
The Viber drama started when Teves confronted Villafuerte for accusing him of peddling rumors.
Teves earlier complained about the “disparity” in the infrastructure funds share of districts in the proposed 2021 budget. (READ: Preview of speakership showdown? Cayetano, Velasco allies clash over 2021 DPWH budget)
Villafuerte then claimed Teves was being used by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco and former Negros Occidental congressman Alfredo “Albee” Benitez to botch the swift passage of the 2021 budget under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Teves and Villafuerte initially just repeated what they already said in their public statements. But the Negros Oriental congressman – who said the 2021 budget issue was "nothing personal" for him – seemed to reach his boiling point in the Viber group.
“I hope everybody is a witness to this conversation. Walang kasuhan ha? Walang ethics-ethics ha? That day will come. Alam naman ng lahat [ang] pagkabading mo,” Teves told Villafuerte. (I hope everybody is a witness to this conversation. Let’s not file cases, okay? No ethics-ethics, okay? That day will come. We all know you’re gay.)
Villafuerte mocked Teves for taunting him in an online group chat.
“Ikaw 'ata bading kasi puro hambog gawa mo! Tapang mo. Kanina na sana ‘di ba? Ikaw lang kilala ko naghahamon [sa] Viber. Gawin mo! Duwag ka naman. Puro ko daldal! Baka umiyak ka ulit,” Villafuerte clapped back with the laugh-crying emojis.
(Maybe you’re gay one because you’re all talk! If you’re so bold, we should have done this earlier, right? You’re the only one I know who would taunt people on Viber. I dare you to do it in person! But you’re a coward. You’re all talk! You might even cry again.)
Teves then challenged Villafuerte to a physical fight, even naming former House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr, Villafuerte’s longtime rival in Camarines Sur.
“Baka nakalimutan mo, ‘di ka lumaban kay Andaya. Don’t worry. We will meet in person. I hope you workout enough. I don’t like word wars. ‘Pag nagharap na lang tayo,” Teves warned.
(Perhaps you’re already forgetting that you did not dare fight Andaya. Don’t worry. We will meet in person. I hope you workout enough. I don’t like word wars. Let’s just settle this when we meet.)
Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor tried to step in to diffuse the tension.
Teves relented out of respect for Defensor, but not before dropping the homophobic slur “faggot” against Villafuerte.
“You know I don’t lie. Let that faggot prove Albee and Lord’s involvement. Boss Mike, kilala mo ako. Sige lang. (Boss Mike, you know me. But all right.) I hope he will be man enough when we meet. Lahat ng sinabi ko totoo (Everything I said is true),” Teves said.
Villafuerte, of course, wanted to have the last word.
“Who’s the faggot and the bansot (stunted)!!” typed Villafuerte.
Perhaps the good gentlemen from Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur should be reminded that it’s not at all honorable – let alone mature – to use the F word to insult people. It’s now 2020, not the 1900s.
Besides, the real issue here is the lawmakers’ pork barrel, not their gender nor romantic preferences. – Rappler.com
Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at email@example.com or tweet @maracepeda.