Rep. Atienza warns of ‘half-cooked, defective’ 2020 budget bill
MANILA, Philippines — With the current pace and procedure of deliberations on the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 budget in the House of Representatives, a party-list lawmaker has warned that the bill could be “half-cooked or maybe defective in many ways” when it is approved.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza Jr. on Thursday pointed out that during plenary deliberations on the proposed 2020 budget, there are times that a quorum has not even been established.
Atienza bared that some congressmen “doctor” their attendance during the session’s roll call to make it seem that they are present during the deliberations.
“Makikita nito, sa roll call maraming sumasagot tapos as the session goes. Mawawala yan, at a certain point, mga 25 na lang ang nandoon, nagpapasa pa ng budget. They keep passing the budget with 20 or 30 people on the floor,” Atienza said in a press conference.
“Kapag wala ng members enough to form a quorum, anything that is handled and tackled by the body is questionable, and illegal probably because hindi inaprubahan ng quorum,” he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that such practice was rampant during the 16th Congress but it was abolished during the 17th Congress.
“We don’t want it again to be the malpractice of our legislative processes,” he said.
Aside from the issues on quorum, Atienza also bared that lengthy interpellations on the budget is discouraged.
“Ayaw payagan ang lengthy interpellation, pinuputol ka. Bubulungan ka ‘sobra ka na.’ Mayroon bang ‘sobra ka na’ when you’re pointing out very important issues on the budget?” the party-list lawmaker said.
“Kaya dumadating ‘yung panahon na nakakapag-apruba kami ng mga batas na kulang, hilaw, at may diperensya,” he added.
Atienza questioned the priority of the current leadership of the chamber so as to justify “cutting short basic procedures and requirements.”
“Itong leadership natin, mukhang mas concerned siya sa breaking records and breaking time elements. So what if we approve the budget if we do not do it properly and hasty?” he pointed out.
“The danger of passing, not only the budget, but laws which are half-cooked and maybe defective in many ways is a great probability because lack of strict adherence to the rules,” Atienza added.
“The rules are very much on the side of quality legislation pero kung hindi mo nga sinusunod ‘yon, o kaya bina-bastardize mo, diyan tayo mag-uumpisa ng problema,” he further said.
The House started plenary deliberations on the 2020 budget on Tuesday. The House appropriations committee only took two weeks to scrutinize and approve the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget.
The chamber aims to approve the budget by Oct. 4. /jpv