• Lawmaker sees swift OK of supplemental budget

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    The House of Representatives will pass a supplemental budget before Congress takes its Christmas break to raise P55 billion for the rehabilitation of areas flattened by Super Typhoon Yolanda, a House leader said.

    Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, issued the statement on the day that Senate President Franklin Drilon disclosed that the Aquino administration will earmark a P55-billion Rehabilitation Fund.

    The money, Drilon said, will be sourced from the unobligated funds in the 2013 national budget, the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014 and the P13.5 billion unspent 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

    “We still have to talk about the details, but we should be able to pass it before the December break. We cannot pass a supplemental budget if the year is over. If the Senate President said we need P55 billion, I am sure he is in touch with the Executive and that would be a reliable figure,” Quimbo told reporters.

    “We will take action and the available fund will definitely include those which was set aside by the Supreme Court ruling. The government is not in the business of savings.

    The government’s business is to spend the taxpayers’ money for programs that will benefit its citizens,” he added.

    Once the House receives the proposed supplemental budget from the Executive, the House Committee on Appropriations will convene. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has the power to convene the plenary as a Committee of the Whole so that the Executive’s proposed supplemental budget will be directly subjected to plenary debates.

    Quimbo said Congress can speed up the passage of the supplemental budget measure “because there is an urgent need.”

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