Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has belied Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco’s claim that the former’s House clique or “barkada” has been heavily favored in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

images 1 4 - Cayetano refutes ‘Barkada Budget’ claim
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano, in a speech during Tuesday’s plenary session, named at least two “non-clique” congressmen who according to him belong to the top 10 districts with the highest infrastructure fund allocation as far as 2021 is concerned.

These are Bukidnon 3rd district Rep. Manuel Zubiri and Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman.

“He (Velasco) came up with a video na panay barkada daw ni Cayetano ang may budget (He came up with a video claiming those with huge budgets come from Cayetano’s clique),” the Speaker said.

“First of all, ang nag-submit ng budget, Presidente. President’s Budget. So paano naman nangyari na ‘Barkada ni Cayetano’ ang nasa President’s budget? (It was the President who submitted the budget. It’s the President’s Budget. So how could it be that ‘Cayetano’s Clique’ is in the President’s budget?)” the Speaker asked.

More accurately, Malacañang through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted to the House of Representatives last August the proposed P4.506-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2021. The NEP serves as the basis for the House budget measure, which for next year is designated as House Bill (HB) No.7727.

Last month, Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. ArnolfoTeves Jr. questioned during the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Appropriations panel briefing the alleged huge disparity of infrastructure fund allotments between congressional districts under the agency’s proposed budget.

Teves–an ally of Velasco, the supposed Speaker-in-waiting–claimed some districts were allocated with less than P2 billion while others were rumored to receive P8 billion or more.

“Pinatignan ko po yung top 10 (districts). Seven out of the top 10 kaibigan ko, pero hindi ko barkada (I had the top 10 districts checked. Seven out of the top 10 were my friends, but not part of my clique). Some you will not say I’m even close (to),” Cayetano told his colleagues in the plenary.

Cayetano said Rep. Zubiri, a majority member, was “either in the top three or five” in the list. The latter is the brother of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“I really like Congressman Zubiri. To be honest, huwag magagalit si Migz (I hope Migz won’t get mad), I like him better than Migz. Because he is quieter, but he works hard, he’s always here, kahit hindi niya committee inaattendan niya (he attends hearings of committees he is not a member of). So I think he deserves the budget,” the Speaker noted.

Meanwhile, Cayetano gave a more extreme description of his working relationship with Lagman in terms of him not being his supporter.

“Kayo ang witness di ba? Sa siyam na sinabi ni Congressman Lagman tungkol sa akin, sampu ay pagtuligsa (You’re all witnesses right? Out of nine things that Congressman Lagman said about me, ten are criticisms). And that’s his call…I still consider him a friend. He doesn’t agree with me on the issues, so be it. Hindi naman nagalaw yung budget niya. (His budget wasn’t touched),” he said.

“So I do not know where this insurgency of the budget is coming from,” Cayetano said. He did not name the rest of the congressmen in the top 10 districts with the highest infrastructure fund budgets. 

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