A RANKING leader of the House of Representatives today said that threats and intimidation will not get their desired effect on members of the chamber if the goal is to reconsider its decision to realign some P1.23 billion in confidential funds in the 2024 national budget.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Franz Pumaren made this statement in response to the recent attacks by former president Rodrigo Duterte against the House of Representatives for redistributing the confidential funds asked for by his daughter, now Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio to national security agencies.
“As the good former president should know, we, as lawmakers duly elected by our respective constituents to represent their interests, do not respond well to threats and intimidation. If his allegations have bases, then he should go to the proper channels and file charges,” Pumaren, a former Majority Leader of QC City Council, said.
“But to insinuate bodily harm or even the murder of a member of the House of Representatives, this has gone too far. We urge the former president to be cautious and reasonable in his criticisms. There are more peaceful and effective ways to send his message through,” Pumaren added.
In defending the confidential funds asked by his daughter, the Vice President, ex-president Duterte made insinuations that the House of Representatives has hidden “pork barrel,” a controversial practice that has already been prohibited by practice and by law. He also said the Commission on Audit should take a look into the use of funds of the House.
Ex-President Duterte was quoted as saying that the confidential funds the vice president asked for would be used for the reestablishment of the ROTC and to fight off communist recruiters in the educational system, adding, “Pero, ang una mong target sa intelligence fund mo, kayo, ikaw France, kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin.”
Pumaren said he is saddened by this turn of events, saying the former chief executive’s statements only divide the people and create animosity against the House of Representatives, an institution that was steadfast in its support of ex-President Duterte’s legislative agenda during his term.
“We implore the good former president to seek the path of peaceful resolution instead of engaging in making threats and intimidation. We should unite, not divide. We are not going to be good examples to the people if we give in to these bickerings,” Pumaren said.
“The decision to realign the vice president’s confidential funds is nothing personal, as several other agencies also faced the same redistribution. If the former president thinks this is wrong, our doors are always open in the House of Representatives for dialogues,” he continued.
The House of Representatives recently decided to divert some P1.23 billion in confidential funds from several government agencies to efforts to boost security in the WPS. Among the agencies that were stripped of confidential funds are the Office of the Vice President (P500 million) and the Department of Education (P150 million).
The confidential funds were realigned, among others, to these government agencies: National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (P300 million); National Security Council (P100 million); Philippine Coast Guard (P200 million); Department of Transportation (P351 million); DepEd’s Government Assistance to Students and Teachers (P150 million); DICT’s Cybercrime Prevention, Investigation and Coordination Program (P25 million); Department of Foreign Affairs operations (P30 million); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ MOOE (P30 million); and Office of the Ombudsman’s MOOE (P50.4 million).