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House slams Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Martin Romualdez resumed sessions at the House of Representatives yesterday with an indirect swipe at former president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

“I will stand and fight against anyone who scares us into following what they want. I will – all of us will stand for the welfare of the country,” Romualdez said in Filipino, as he presided over the resumption of session.

“We will also not allow anyone to stop us from accomplishing our mandate for our countrymen,” Romualdez said in his speech. “Nothing personal, just business.”

Romualdez did not name names, but his ally, Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., later identified Duterte and his daughter the Vice President as the ones deemed by House members to be maligning the chamber.

In his speech, Romualdez also referred to Sara Duterte’s confidential funds that the House has realigned to security agencies.

Romualdez, who heads the chamber whose mandate includes the power of the purse, has been the subject of the former president’s tirades made over a Davao City-based TV station, after the chamber realigned the confidential funds of the Vice President’s two offices.

The P650-million combined confidential and intelligence funds of the Office of the Vice President as well as the Department of Education – which the younger Duterte also heads – have been transferred to agencies handling national security concerns, primarily regarding the West Philippine Sea.

The Speaker likewise told his House colleagues that he is prepared “to stand before anyone and vehemently defend our actions and decisions, even in the face of issues that threaten this institution’s integrity.”

“We have consistently upheld the principles associated with democracy, representation, fairness, pluralism and even dissent,” he said.

Romualdez lamented that despite their hard work to accomplish the targets they have set for themselves, “certain sectors or individuals with misplaced priorities choose to malign and tarnish the positive image of this very institution we labored hard to achieve.”

The House leader recalled that when he was elected Speaker in mid-2022, he had set out “to pursue