A lawmaker on Thursday recommended to the House of Representatives to kick out Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. as majority leader for his “non-stop maneuvers” in allegedly derailing the already-delayed approval of the proposed 2019 national budget.
Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said, members of the House, particularly those from the pro-Duterte majority coalition should reconsider the appointment of Andaya, a fellow Bicolano representative, when Congress resumes session on Monday
“My fellow Bicolano legislator has unfortunately become the odd man out in the current House leadership, given that his No. 1 job as majority leader is to shepherd through the bigger chamber the legislative agenda of the government, including the annual GAA (General Appropriations Act), that would let President [Rodrigo] Duterte deliver on his campaign promises to the Filipino people,” Villafuerte added.
Andaya, who represents Camarines Sur’s First District, has been at odds with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno over an alleged flood-control scam involving the later and his in-laws, thus delaying passage of the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.
According to him, Diokno’s hand in facilitating the budget favors his in-laws, the Hamors, who own Aremar Construction Corp., to corner multi-million infrastructure projects in Casiguran, Sorsogon.
But for Villafuerte, an increasing number of pro-administration legislators are already “fed up with Andaya’s anti-Department of Budget and Management (DBM) posturing,” given that they support the legislative approval en toto of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) that Duterte submitted to Congress right after his third State-of-the-Nation Address in July 2018.
“Derailing the 2019 GAA’s approval and undermining President Duterte’s growth and development agenda is certainly not the job description of the House majority leader,” he said.
The lawmaker added that recent “anti-Palace” moves by Andaya show that he was only looking for “a protracted battle” with Malacañang over the GAA bill.
These moves include his insistence to pursue a January 3 hearing on the flood-control scam with the House Committee on Rules in Naga City, Camarines Sur, “in the company of the House minority” when he should have focused on providing relief for residents affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Usman; as well as his threat to file a mandamus suit against Diokno if he fails to implement the fourth tranche of the salary adjustment for government workers under the Salary Standardization Law.
“In case Andaya cannot make up his mind on whether he is for or against President Duterte and his development agenda, then it behooves the House majority to do it for him,” Villafuerte said, who has been fighting with Andaya.
The two Camarines Sur lawmakers previously traded insults against each other in Pili town over a reorientation project of the Naga Airport in April 2018.
They also had a heated exchange in the plenary that caused a delay in deliberations on the 2019 GAA at the House over the alleged insertion of over P52 million lump-sum funds allocated for some congressional districts.
Villafuerte was also tagged as the mastermind behind the assassination attempt on Andaya when he filed his certificate of candidacy for governor in Camarines Sur last October.
Villafuerte’s son, incumbent Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Villafuerte, is running against Andaya of the First District in the 2019 polls for his third consecutive term.
The lawmaker, then, dismissed such allegations as “absolute falsehood.”
Responding to Villafuerte, Andaya said he would be the first to vote to be removed from his post as majority leader, as he saw it as “forced labor” and “burden.”
“To me, this post is forced labor. I have been expressing to be relieved of this post even before… many would give an arm and leg for this position. I see it, however, as a burden,” he added.
“Daily, we were clearing legislation. We have passed all the President’s major bills. We did this without curtailing debate. And we did not mince words when bad legislation came our way. And we were pro-active and even anticipated the administration’s needs,” the majority leader said, claiming that there is “no greater proof” of his loyalty to the President.