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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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FIRING LINE: Not too fast, Mr. Speaker

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Senator Imee Marcos has made it clear: Speaker Martin Romualdez cannot dictate terms for this administration even if he is blood-related to the President. At least, not without the approval of Bongbong Marcos’s “super ate” – a term she coined for herself.

Admitting a rift, Senator Imee revealed their cousin Romualdez’s displeasure since October, stemming from her enduring closeness to the Dutertes. This has not stopped her, though, from questioning Romualdez’s targeting of former president Rody Duterte and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio when the issues of confidential and intelligence funds and the International Criminal Court cropped up.

In one radio interview, she even disses her cousin as “not a Marcos” for him to have the gall to question whether her allegiance is to her brother, the President, or their political ally and friends, the Dutertes.

So it is not surprising that Sen. Imee has disagreed with Romualdez on crucial matters and openly dismissed constitutional amendments he has been pushing for. From the get-go, the lady senator has referred to this wise idea of the Speaker as less vital for her brother’s administration. 

She made it sharp and clear they have differences and that she is independent of him and somehow still more influential to the Chief Executive, being the elder sister. Suppose we are to judge from President Bongbong’s move to let Senate President Migz Zubiri lead the discussions on Charter change as an indication. In that case, it appears the “super ate” was correct: Cousin Martin cannot dictate the terms.

 A P51-billion question

For Congressman Zaldy Co to say that he is 99% certain that the reported P51-billion allocation to Rep. Paolo Duterte’s district in 2022 is likely accurate speaks volumes. At the very least, it demands scrutiny, which is precisely what Co is asking for.

The amount of such funds poured into one congressional district is variably staggering and exposes potential financial irregularities. The discrepancy in allocations, reaching P35 billion in a single year, surpasses typical district averages.

Perhaps that is what Rep. Pulong Duterte is so riled about in calling out the House leadership over a supposed P2-billion cut of his district’s allocation. Debatably, this sparks valid concerns, too, about budget transparency.

That is why it is essential that the House Committee on Appropriations, fulfilling its duty, delve seriously into the matter while the Filipino nation watches. It is the government’s responsibility to confirm the veracity of such allocations.

For his part, Co dismisses any connection to political tensions, emphasizing the committee’s commitment to doing what is right. Needless to say, the people deserve clarity on this sizable allocation and its implications.

 
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at https://www.thephilbiznews.com

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