Budget mayhem to cost Andaya

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House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (PTV Photo)

For “subverting” President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda, House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. will likely be dislodged from his post when Congress reopens session on Monday.

A member of the pro-Duterte majority bloc said the House leader is destabilizing Malacañang with his “nonstop maneuvers” to derail the already delayed approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

“Andaya does not deserve to remain a minute longer as House majority leader for committing acts inimical to the interests of the pro-administration coalition and of the Filipino people, especially of the poor who have elected Mr. Duterte to the presidency on the conviction that he would bring about real change and liberate them from generational poverty on his watch,” the Duterte ally said.

Andaya said he will be the first to vote for his relief as majority leader.

“To me, this post is forced labor. I really want to be relieved of my duties as majority leader from the start,” he said.

Andaya said when the post was first offered to him he “begged off” numerous times.

“I was recommending my good friend Fred Castro to be the majority leader. I was happy being Deputy Speaker. I said that six months would be the maximum, then please release me.
This job has tied me down in Manila when I should be focusing in Camarines Sur,” he claimed.

“In the past six months, the House production of laws was high, in the hundreds. Daily, we were clearing legislation. We have passed all the President’s major bills. We did this without curtailing debate. And we did not mince words when bad legislation came our way. We were proactive and even anticipated the administration’s needs. There is no greater proof of my loyalty to the President than that,” he claimed.

Sleeper agent

A Duterte House ally said 14 January will be the “day of reckoning” for the majority leader as he claimed it was the time for the pro-Duterte majority coalition to ask Andaya if he is “with us or against us?”

The lawmaker added Andaya’s failure to put an immediate stop to his “endless” tirades against the national budget would be a confirmation of a long-nagging suspicion that Andaya is a sleeper agent of the political opposition out to destabilize Duterte’s administration ahead of the midterm elections.

Top of the list

The Senate promised to speed up deliberations on the 2019 proposed national budget which tops its agenda when it resumes session on Monday.

Among the agencies whose budget proposals are still subject to interpellations in the Senate are the Departments of National Defense, Public Works and Highways, Tourism and Health.

Also up for interpellation are the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Bureau of Immigration and the Commission on Elections.

Malacañang earlier had called on Congress to expedite the passage of the P3.757-trillion budget so as not to hamper government programs.

The Senate is willing to conduct morning and afternoon sessions starting Monday, if necessary, to ensure the early passage of the budget.

“It will be the budget on top of the agenda,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said yesterday.

Road Board abolition next

Earlier, Senate Finance committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda had vowed to pass the budget soon after the resumption of the session.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they will work hard to approve the GAB in two weeks’ time.

The Senate is blaming the House of Representatives for the delayed transmission of the GAB last year.

Next in the Senate agenda will be the abolition of the graft-ridden Road Board, which manages the P69 billion Motor Vehicle User’s Charge.

Sotto, however, stressed that half of the senators are standing firm on the Senate’s position that the Board is already abolished, thus there is no need for a bicameral conference committee to tackle it.

He said since the Senate adopted House Bill 7436, approved during the stint of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez but rescinded by the House after Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed as Speaker, there are no disagreeing provisions to address.

“We have adopted the House version, so there is no need for a bicam,” the Senate President said.

Earlier, Andaya, who initially fought for the rescinding of the House bill that abolished the Road Board, had expressed readiness for the House contingent to go to a bicameral meeting. Zubiri said he is ready for the bicameral.

With Mario J. Mallari

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