The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the P2.60-trillion proposed budget for 2015 on third reading via a 197 to 27 vote, thus formally making official the P4.7 billion errata submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) spearheaded the approval of the budget despite strong protests from opposition lawmakers.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares along with Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT party-list and Buhay party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza strongly opposed the inclusion of the P4.7 billion errata in the approved version without subjecting it to plenary approval.
Gonzales, however, noted that the House rules were followed because a motion was approved on September 26 that authorized the small committee under the House appropriations panel to evaluate and accept proposed amendments if these are found meritorious.
“We [in the plenary]have agreed to create a small committee to do as it wishes. Such is the power of the plenary in accepting committee amendments. We have the constitutional task to approve the budget, and that supersedes any point of order,” he said.
The P4.7 billion errata include allocations for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila in November (P3.28 billion) and for the Bureau of Customs (BOC) (P998.8 million).
The Tourism department was given P296 million, Trade and Industry department, P93.7 million and the Commission on Human Rights, P34 million.
The Commission on Elections was allotted P3 million; Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, P53.5 million; and Grassroots Participatory Budget Program, P1.79 million.
Colmenares fumed at the error-filled proposed 2015 budget, pointing out that the errata is on top of the fact that the DBM listed the budget for the assistance to the local governments at a mind-boggling P423 billion when the allocation should only be P33 billion.
“Why is it that the small committee can approve the budget just like that? If there are changes after the second reading, it should be submitted before the plenary so that the plenary will have the opportunity to approve the amendments of the small committee,” the lawmaker argued.
Atienza said the measure was railroaded.