The House of Representatives aims to pass on Friday, September 20, the budget measure that was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.
House leaders confirmed on Thursday that they would fast-track the approval of the proposed P4.1-trillion budget. This will be the first time under the Duterte administration that the budget bill will be approved on second and third reading on the same day.
“Given the said certification, the P4.1-trillion budget for 2020 may be passed on the same day without waiting for separate days to have it approved on second and third readings,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Isidro Ungab said in a statement.
“We can approve the budget [bill] tomorrow on third reading,” Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda, who heads the Ways and Means panel, said.
Deputy Majority Leader Juan Pablo Bondoc said the lower chamber would form a small committee composed of members of the majority and the minority to accept amendments to House Bill (HB) 4228
“We have the assurance of our leadership that all amendments will likely be considered and will be judiciously accepted. This has been done in the past in the spirit of transparency and procedural method so that we will be given a longer time to admit all the amendments of our colleagues,” Bondoc said.
On September 17, President Rodrigo Duterte sent a letter to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, which certified HB 4228 as urgent “in order to expedite the funding of various programs, projects and activities for fiscal year 2020” and to ensure “budgetary preparedness” of the government in performing its constitutional mandate.
The proposed national budget is 12 percent or P438 billion higher than the P3.6-trillion budget in 2019.
Malacañang on Thursday said the President certified the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget as urgent to avoid a repeat of last year’s delay.
“In certifying the urgency of the budget bill, PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) wants to convey to the members of Congress the importance of passing the General Appropriations Bill on time to avoid a repeat of a reenacted budget that wreaked havoc to the economic program of this Administration, affected the timely delivery of basic services to the people and, ultimately, slowed our growth during the first quarter of this year,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“Government operations must never be hampered and our constitutional mandate to serve the Filipino people must prevail over partisan considerations and constant differences or varying interpretations on the budget,” he added.
WITH CATHERINE VALENTE