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Infra budget to be scrutinized

‘Inequitable’ allocation up for review even as Velasco extends ‘healing hand’

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the House leadership will address the “inequitable” allocation of infrastructure funds under the 2021 proposed budget—an issue that hounded his predecessor, Taguig Rep. Alan Cayetano who, together with his wife and allies, was accused by lawmakers of getting the lion’s share.

Velasco said the House of Representatives will scrutinize the allocations under the budget measure that was passed on third and final reading Friday night.

“If we cannot accomplish that (equitable distribution), we can still do that next year. But as much as possible, we will do everything we can so that we can equitably, fairly distribute,” he said.

Lawmakers from the Lower House have until October 19 to submit individual amendments to the General Appropriations Bill.

“We are making sure there is no pork in the said budget,” Velasco said.

Asked if the reported P8 billion infrastructure allocation for Taguig’s two districts, represented by Cayetano and his wife, Lanie, will be affected, Velasco did not give a categorical answer.

“I’m still looking at it,” the new Speaker said.

The infrastructure budget issue, according to Cebu Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa, triggered Cayetano’s downfall.

Ahead of the squabble over the speakership—which saw Cayetano having the numbers initially only to lose his allies to Velasco during the so-called rump session held outside Congress -- presidential son and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte was the first to send a signal that a leadership change may be in the offing to address the budget allocation issue.

Still, Velasco maintained that he is extending a “healing hand” to Cayetano, who was stripped of another position Friday, this time as the caretaker of the First District of Camarines Sur.

Velasco renewed his offer Cayetano to be his senior deputy speaker or chairman of any House committee.

“He’s the former speaker and I truly believe that he deserves the position. He can choose either a committee chairmanship or a deputy speaker position,” Velasco said.

Cayetano has yet to make any comment as of press time.

“Like what I said last time during one of my speeches, I said I’m extending my healing hand to former Speaker Cayetano and I did,” Velasco said, adding that there will be no reorganization or changes in the key leadership posts in the House at the moment.

“As of now, we won’t change anything because we want to have unity and harmony within the members,” Velasco said. 

“In times like these, especially with the COVID, we need to be united, a unified Congress to fasttrack the passage of several legislation that will address the problem as well as help our people cope with the health crisis,” Velasco added.

Topics: Lord Allan Velasco , infrastructure funds , Alan Cayetano , House of Representatives
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