House of Representatives

House vows to uphold ‘integrity, honor’ after Duterte attacks

Kaycee Valmonte

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House vows to uphold ‘integrity, honor’ after Duterte attacks

LOWER HOUSE. The House of Representatives opens its second regular session on Monday morning, July 24, 2023.

Dwight de Leon/Rappler

The House of Representatives adopts House Resolution 1414 at the resumption of session to express appreciation and support for the leadership of Speaker Martin Romualdez

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives have banded together to protect their institution from what Speaker Martin Romualdez described as people “with misplaced priorities” who are trying to “dictate” the direction of the lower chamber through intimidation.

“Let it be said, never must we countenance or allow others, not so likely-minded individuals who choose to malign or put down the image of this institution and dictate the direction we must go,” Romualdez said during the resumption of session on Monday, November 6.

That day, House Resolution 1414 was adopted to uphold the lower chamber’s integrity and honor, and to express appreciation, solidarity, and support for the leadership of Romualdez. This comes weeks after former president Rodrigo Duterte described the House as the “most rotten” in government, attacked ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on television, and accused Romualdez of corruption.

Party leaders at the House earlier called out Duterte for his allegations against the House leadership and Castro but they were noticeably not as direct on Monday. Lawmakers first skirted why House Resolution 1414 was being filed in the first place, and Duterte’s accusations against the chamber were merely referred to as “some words were said” and “some bad news regarding the House of the people.”

“I believe…during the break, there were threats against one of the House members and the House itself and so I believe this is to show solidarity not only towards our speaker but for the institution as a whole and its sanctity,” said Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Sandro Marcos.

The general silence over naming the former president prompted Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, an opposition lawmaker, to ask, “Why is the name of that accuser so sacrosanct that we cannot mention it before this body?”

Prior to naming the former chief executive, Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. resigned as a member of the Duterte-led PDP Laban.

“The one who uttered that word is our chairman,” said Gonzales, referring to the chamber being called “rotten.”

House vows to uphold ‘integrity, honor’ after Duterte attacks
Realigned budget

Duterte’s tirades against the chamber were made after confidential funds had been stripped from the offices led by his daughter, Vice Presient Sara Duterte. She had asked for a total of P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds for her two offices – P500 million for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and P150 million for the Department of Education (DepEd).

Under public pressure, the House reallocated the OVP and DepEd secret funds for 2024 to agencies on the forefront of asserting the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea.

“The House of Representatives, during the budget deliberations a few months ago, did not miss a beat in dissecting, scrutinizing, and deliberating every figure and item in the 2024 budget proposal,” Romualdez said.

“And we have an alert minority to thank for doing their share of spadework in digging into the finer details of the budget,” he added.

Castro had continuously questioned Sara’s need for confidential funds. The Vice President had traded barbs with both opposition lawmakers but failed to ever explain her need for confidential funds. – Rappler.com

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