Nationwide round-up (01/03/21)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte publicly named lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption because the planned legislative investigation on the matter was stopped under the current House leadership, former House speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said on Friday. Mr. Duterte earlier presented a list of supposed corrupt members of the House of Representatives that was prepared by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. Mr. Cayetano, who represents Taguig City, said Party-list Rep. Michael T. Defensor and Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado planned to hold public hearings on the alleged involvement of some of their colleagues in corruption before he was removed from the speakership post. “Before Mike Defensor and Jonathan Alvarado were removed from being committee chairmen, those were set to be investigated. The new House leadership prevented that from happening. It said, ‘don’t investigate them just yet,'” Mr. Cayetano, who was ousted as House Speaker in October in a session held outside the chamber, said in his Facebook live in mixed English and Filipino. The lawmaker said the President’s action was consistent with his style of taking matters “into his own hands” once an agency failed to act on his “warning shot.” Mr. Defensor and Mr. Sy-Alvarado were both stripped of their chairmanships in the committee on public accounts, and the committee on good government and public accountability, respectively, following Mr. Velasco’s assumption as Speaker. “I expect more names to be named because there are a lot of names circulating. I’m just disappointed that the President revealed it first,” Mr. Cayetano said, adding that the revelation should prompt the House leadership to act on the corruption claims against its members.

Reacting to the lawmaker’s statement, Party-list Rep. Eric G. Yap, one of those tagged in the list, said he’s not aware that an investigation had been planned in the House. Mr. Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, assumed his post under the leadership of Mr. Cayetano. “I’m not aware of that,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber call on Sunday. “Should an investigation have been filed, I’m sure that it would be pursued by the House committee on good government.” Mr. Yap said his colleagues in the chamber will seek an inquiry into the issue this month. Mr. Velasco has yet to respond to a request for comment as of this writing. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza


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