The Philippines: Cayetano denies favouritism in public works funds under 2021 budget

  • Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano denied his closest allies in the House are getting the biggest shares of the infrastructure fund in the proposed PHP4.5tr national budget for 2021.
  • According to Cayetano, 7 out of the 10 districts with the highest allocations under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are represented by legislators who “are not super close” to him.
  • “They’re saying 60% of the budget in Metro Manila went to Taguig. That’s completely false. Look at the top 10. I looked at the top 10 districts that got the highest amounts. Seven out of 10 are not super close to me. You can’t say they’re my friends,” he said.
  • His response also came on the same day that Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr, a Velasco ally, revived his accusations that Cayetano’s bailiwick Taguig City is getting the biggest chunk of the DPWH budget.
  • In a statement, Teves said Taguig City-Pateros will be getting a total of PHP11.1bn under the 2021 budget. This is even higher than the PHP8bn supposedly allocated for Taguig that Teves first floated on 17 Sep 20.
  • Cayetano has not provided a breakdown of the 10 districts with the highest DPWH allocations as of posting time. But Cayetano mentioned one lawmaker on the list during his Facebook Live video: Bukidnon 3rd District Representative Manuel Zubiri.
  • “For example, Congressman Zubiri is one in the top 10, I think top 5 ‘no? Look at the last vote, he didn’t vote for me. But he is a very diligent, very smart, very hardworking guy, that even if there’s COVID-19, he shows up on the floor, I work well with him,” Cayetano said.
  • Under the agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano is to serve as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, then Velasco takes over in the 21 months after that.
  • But it remains unclear when exactly Velasco’s term is supposed to begin, even after both parties met with the President to settle the term-sharing question in the chamber.

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