The House of Representatives will extend its work hours this week to approve the P22-billion supplemental budget for 2014 as proposed by the Aquino administration, leaders of the House of Representatives said on Monday.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (Quezon City) and House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna (Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list) ordered the extension after Belmonte suspended work in the House of Representatives on the same day.
“Our plan is to have sessions until Friday so we can approve the priority measures such as the supplemental budget and the emergency powers [for increasing private sector contribution in power supply],” Belmonte said in a text message.
Of the P22 billion, P8.2 billion will go to the National Housing Authority for construction of permanent housing for Typhoon (Haiyan) victims (P7.9 billion) and implementation of the North Triangle Relocation Project (P286 million).
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will get P3.44 billion, a fund that will be used for updating of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (P1.94 billion) and the Emergency Shelter Assistance for Typhoon Yolanda victims (P1.5 billion).
The Department of Interior and Local Government, headed by Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd will get P2.9 billion (P2.8 billion for Operational Transformation Plan for the Philippine National Police and P199 million for procurement of 33 firetrucks for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).
The House of Representatives only holds plenary sessions and committee meetings from Mondays to Wednesdays, with the plenary session on Mondays largely reserved for privileged speeches of lawmakers.
“It [P22 billion supplemental budget] is supposed to be deliberated today. It might take two committee hearings. Its [approval]can be done this week. That is a power of the committee to call on its members to conduct hearings on matters that are in its jurisdiction,” Tugna said in a separate talk.
“The Speaker informed us that there will be sessions until Friday to make up for the session that was suspended because of the typhoon. The supplemental budget is targeted to be approved in the House before the Christmas break so that it can be transmitted to the Senate and be incorporated in the 2015 General Appropriations bill,” he added
The House appropriations panel designated to scrutinize the P22-billion supplemental budget is headed by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, a member of the ruling Liberal Party headed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The supplemental budget also poured P1.934 billion into the Department of Transportation and Communications for rehabilitation of Light Rail Transit (LRT) 1 and 2 (P977 million) and Metro Rail Transit 3 rehabilitation and capacity extension (P957 million).
The fifth largest allocation of P1.8 billion was earmarked for the Department of Public Works and Highways for implementation of infrastructure projects previously funded by the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Congress will go on a Christmas break starting December 19 and will only be back by January 5.