BUHAY Party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza on Thursday lambasted the House leadership, particularly Deputy Speaker Carlos Padilla and Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd for the “undue haste” with which the chamber passed the proposed 2015 national budget.
“I fear for our democracy and our democratic processes. Last night, it was not democracy at work when the House leadership railroaded the passage of the 2015 national budget. Only the small committee created to go over the amendments know what these amendments were and the billions of pesos that were part of the errata submitted by the Department of Budget and Management [DBM]. All these should be reported to the body and re-discussed on the floor, scrutinized line by line, item by item so the people will know what we are tackling here. We ourselves don’t even know what we are approving here,” Atienza said.
He added that there has been no quorum since Monday thus sessions were adjourned.
“Now, all of a sudden, on the last session day, almost all the congressmen are present and we are given merely one hour to go over three volumes of budget and expenditure programs. Why are they in such a rush to approve the budget? There are still two months before the end of the year, more than enough opportunities to inject transparency and clarity in its approval,” the lawmaker said.
“Until now, the DBM has not answered our queries as to where the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds were allocated and how much. This, even after the DAP was struck down by the Supreme Court! As it is, we have no way of checking if there was no double allocation done since we did not even see the small committee’s report,” he added.
“It is our duty as elected members of Congress to ensure that this does not happen again. I am very disappointed with Deputy Speaker Padilla, who was a former member of the minority and who was always outspoken when it came to pointing out any wrongdoings.
But now he would not even listen to his fellow lawmakers who try to voice out their concerns on such a crucial issue as the national budget,” Atienza said. “I want to put it on record that I strongly object to this defective system that we are following in the House of Representatives. This is a wrong and erroneous process. Why are we not being given the chance to ask questions, to explain our votes? Are they hiding something?” he asked.