AnaKalusugan Party-List Lawmaker Rep. Mike Defensor
By Junex Doronio
MANILA — In what appeared to be a “proxy war” between anticipated presidential contenders Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano their proteges exchanged barbs on Monday afternoon during the plenary session of the House of Representatives.
AnaKalusugan Representative Mike Defensor, an ally of Cayetano, drew the first blood when he directly attacked Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, identified with the presidential daughter, for allowing the reduction of over P20 billion from the 2021 national budget’s Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF) for retired and uniformed personnel.
“I now ask the leadership of the House, Speaker Lord Velasco: Why did this happen? Paano natin pinayagan na ang pension at gratuity fund ng ating mga pulis, ng ating mga sundalo, ng mga Coast Guard, ng mga taga-Bureau of Fire Protection, at mga jail guards ay mabawasan?” Defensor railed.
The Quezon City lawmaker said he wanted to hold Velasco responsible after only P152.9 billion was approved for the 2021 PGF, which was P20 billion lower than what was originally proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) when it submitted the national budget to Congress in 2020.
Defensor pointed out that the P20 billion was supposedly realigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
But House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap, also identified with Duterte-Carpio, revealed that it was he — not Velasco — who should be held accountable for the P20 billion that was removed from the original PGF proposal.
Yap told Defensor that the money, along with other appropriations initially meant for other agencies, were realigned to fund various coronavirus pandemic response programs in the 2021 budget.
He also admitted that he did not consult Velasco on these realignments to ensure that the budget would be passed on time.
“Kaya po ako kinukuwestiyon lagi, hindi ko po tinanong kay Speaker Velasco kung puwede po bang tanggalin ito. Ako po ay nagdesisyon base sa tingin ko kung ano ang nakakabuti sa sambayanan,” Yap stressed.
After hearing this, Defensor then mocked Velasco.
“Marami po palang kaganapan at mga importanteng gawain, polisiya…and the Speaker is blinded and not aware, bulag po siya sa nangyayari. Eh nakakatakot po,” Defensor quipped. (AI/MTVN)