House to cram revisions, approval of 2020 budget on Sept 20 – solon
MANILA, Philippines — The House will squeeze in one day the submission of amendments to the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget as well as the second and final reading approval of the budget bill on Friday, September 20.
Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga 4th District Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc announced this during the House plenary session on Thursday afternoon.
“Madam Speaker, I have been informed by the House leadership that similar to what has occurred in 2015, we are going to have the approval on second and third readings of House Bill 4228 tomorrow after we formed a small committee formed by the minority and majority to accept amendments to our house bill,” Bondoc said.
According to the lawmaker, the House leadership gave an assurance that the changes to the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) would be “judiciously considered and most likely accepted.”
“This has been done in the past in the spirit of transparency and procedural method. It was done in the previous Congresses so that we will be given a longer time to admit all the amendments of our colleagues,” he added.
But this practice is questionable, according to ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, a member of the minority and Makabayan blocs in the chamber. She said that they would clarify this on Friday.
“‘Yun nga rin ang concern ng Makabayan bloc, paano mangyayari na ma-incorporate ang amendments bukas?” Castro told INQUIRER.net when asked how the small committee could accept and scrutinize the amendments of around 300 House members and approve the budget bill on the same day.
“Hindi dahil may precedent, tama na ‘yun. Pinatuloy na namin ang deliberations kasi iratsada na nila ‘yan bukas tingin ko,” she added.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader and Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. pointed out that Friday’s schedule would be enough since not all congressmen would send amendments to the bill. He also said changes to the expenditure plan after the third reading approval could still be introduced and tackled by the bicameral conference committee.
A source knowledgeable on the matter also said the small committee has the power authorized by the House plenary to accept committee and individual amendments that could reflect at the bicam version of the 2020 budget.
The chamber originally aimed to pass the expenditure plan on final reading by October 4 to prevent a repeat of the delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget caused by legislators fighting over alleged kickback-laden pork barrel funds.
The chamber began its two-week plenary debates on the proposed expenditure plan last September 10, after just two weeks of committee-level deliberations.
Members of the Makabayan opposition bloc criticized the short time provided to scrutinize the spending plan with Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite saying many questionable items were inserted in the “railroaded” budget. /kga
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