House swiftly OKs P4.1-T nat’l budget for 2020 after only a month of debates
MANILA, Philippines — Just a month since the executive branch submitted its proposed spending plan for next year, the House of Representatives on Friday already approved the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
But some lawmakers denounced the hasty passage of the 2020 expenditure bill with Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate saying the House had “sacrificed” proper scrutiny of programs and projects of the Duterte administration just to “railroad” its approval.
The chamber dominated by pro-administration lawmakers has approved House Bill No. 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on second reading and on final reading right after by a 257-6 vote.
The six who opposed the approval were Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago– all Makabayan bloc and minority members.
Prior to this, the House formed a small committee that would collate, until September 23, and approve congressmen’s individual and institutional amendments to the budget bill.
Zarate, however, pointed out that even if President Rodrigo Duterte certified the budget bill as urgent it does not mean that the House should merely yield and recklessly cut the budget debate.
It took just a month for the House to approve the budget bill from the day the Department of Budget and Management submitted its proposed National Expenditure Plan to the chamber last August 20.
The House leadership originally aimed to pass the GAB 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.
In his speech after the budget’s approval, Speaker Alan Cayetano thanked his colleagues for passing a “quality people’s budget in record time.”
“Opo mabilis po tayo pero hindi lang po sa budget. Our passing the budget on record time will give our standing and special committees more time to exercise their oversight functions,” the Taguig-Pateros representative said.
The House leader also enjoined his fellow lawmakers to submit their amendments to the proposed budget as he admitted that the expenditure plan for next year is imperfect. /kga
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