Paolo Duterte gets chairmanship of House internal budget panel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte was elected chairman of the House Committee on Accounts in the first session under the new leadership in the chamber on Tuesday.

The presidential son replaced Cavite Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino. Deputy Majority Leader Juan Paolo Bondoc nominated Duterte and this was approved by the House with no objections during the plenary session.

Under the term-sharing agreement between newly-elected House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and his political rival, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, a new chairman of the accounts committee should be elected with the change of leadership.

This committee handles matters relating to the internal budget of the House. The congressman was elected on the first day of the special session called by President Rodrigo Duterte to pass the proposed 2021 budget by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan was elected as the panel's vice chairperson.

The Chief Executive called for the special session, which runs from October 13 to 16, after the House under Cayetano bruptly passed the General Appropriations Bill on second reading last week and prematurely suspended the session until November 16. This was seen largely as a political maneuver to prevent Velasco and his allies from declaring the speakership post vacant on October 14, when Cayetano was supposed to step down and give way to his replacement under a term-sharing deal brokered by the President.

Amid the speakership squabble, Cayetano met with Paolo Duterte, who later said he would not take sides.

Presiding over Tuesday’s session, Velasco said his feud with Cayetano was over following their meeting with the President in Malacañang that afternoon. The Palace said the two lawmakers agreed to work together “as one majority” to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 budget, which includes much-needed funds for the country's efforts to address the ongoing health crisis.

The House withdrew its second-reading approval of the spending bill and reopened plenary debates with a goal to pass it on third and final reading by Friday.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.