President Rodrigo Duterte views the suspension of the sessions in the House of Representatives as illegal and unconstitutional.
This was disclosed by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the presumptive speaker whose turn in the so-called 15-21 term-sharing is being blocked by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano last week suspended the session and announced the submission of the 2021 budget without the concurrence of the majority of the House. He wants the plenary to resume meeting starting 16 November.
The Speaker’s act effectively shunned Velasco’s chance at the speakership as the Marinduque lawmaker is supposed to take over the top House post on 14 October.
It was the date Cayetano and Velasco have agreed as day of the transfer of power following a mediation by President Rodrigo Duterte two weeks ago in Malacanang.
Cayetano, however, turned his back on that agreement as he sought what his peers now call as a “vote of confidence” by offering to resign and having it rejected by his supporters on 30 September.
Then he faced the plenary again to announce the suspension of the sessions until 16 November as he declared the passage of the P4.5 trillion 2021 national budget without scrutiny.
“The President, himself, said that this is unconstitutional,” Velasco shared. “Congress cannot suspend session for more than three days without the concurrence of the Senate. It is illegal.”
The Chief Executive’s sentiment is shared by the other lawmakers.
The Senate also scored Cayetano’s decision, saying it could not guarantee the timely passage of the budget.
“It was railroaded,” Senate President Vicente Sotto said. “They can’t expect Senators Ping Lacson, Frank Drilon and Ralph Recto would not scrutinize what the House will submit.”
Cayetano on Thursday asked for a “ceasefire” with the Senate leader who had warned of the possibility of a reenacted budget next year when funds are badly needed to effectively respond to the pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused.