PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte dared senators to make good its supposed threats to slash the 2022 budgets of government agencies but said this will come at a cost.
In his pre-recorded public address, Duterte said senators were threatening the Cabinet secretaries with their respective agencies’ budget due to their absence in the Senate investigations.
“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers (This is really an abuse of democracy. This separation of powers), co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.
“Reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan (I challenge you, do it). Mautak man kaya kayo. Eh ako ordinaryo lang, 75. Pero kaya ng utak ninyo, sige (You people are smart. As for me, I’m ordinary, my grade was 75. But if your brains can handle it, go ahead), I challenge you,” he added.
The President even told senators they can totally remove allocation for the Office of the President but said that at the end of the day, everything would still be up for his approval.
“I-zero budget mo ang Office of the President. Sige nga. Bakit aabot ba yang pera ninyo kung hindi magdaan sa akin? Eh kung hindi ako mag-release? (Give the Office of the President zero budget. Come on. Do you think your money will reach you without going through me first? What if I don’t release?),” he said.
“Tit-for-tat. Akala niyo kayo lang marunong (You think you’re the only ones in the know)… Walang takutan, i-direcho mo na (No threats, just do it). Let’s have a showdown,” Duterte added.
The President made the dare after ordering members of his Cabinet not to attend the Senate’s investigations into the government’s Covid-19 response.
Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, who has been at the receiving end of Duterte’s insults, said the President is “violating the Constitution” with the issuance.
Duterte has disapproved of the Senate’s marathon hearings regarding pandemic deals, lamenting the way lawmakers treat resource speakers, including government officials handling the country’s coronavirus response.
“We cannot allow blatant disrespect of resource persons at the ongoing hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee. Gordon, you are not God and you cannot play God,” Duterte has said.