P10-B House realignment in 2020 budget to postpone barangay polls
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will push for around P10-billion worth of changes in the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget which would postpone the barangay elections in 2020 and some right-of-way claims of the government, among others.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano bared this on Monday as he committed additional funding for palay procurement, enhancement of the K to 12 program, nationwide electrification, the 2020 Asean Para Games and Tokyo Olympics and the implementation of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018.
Of the P10 billion, Cayetano said more than P5 billion would be removed from the budget for barangay elections next year, which he said would be postponed anew.
Bills postponing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to May 2023 from May 2020 have already been filed in the 18th Congress.
“So these are the areas na medyo (that we’re quite) sure na magkakaroon ng (would have) changes, in my personal calculation less than P10 billion pa lang (only),” the Taguig-Pateros representative said in an interview.
Cayetano said they have already coordinated with the Executive Department about these institutional amendments to prevent a possible presidential veto.
Last Friday, the House approved the 2020 expenditure plan on final reading after just a month of deliberations.
But prior to this, the chamber moved for the creation of a small committee that would accept institutional and individual amendments to the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) even after the third reading approval.
Cayetano defended the chamber’s move to accept changes to the GAB even after its approval, citing traditions of the Lower House. Article VI, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution states that “upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed…”
“We passed it on third reading with that colatilla. This has been the tradition of the House ever since. Because if you allow individual amendments on the floor, 300 (congressmen) ‘yan… [then the] committee accepts or rejects,” the former senator said.
“So all of these, wala kaming binago sa sistemang ‘yan (we did not change anything in that system). That’s all part of the system that was already put in place,” he added.
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, meanwhile, assured that the speedy passage of the budget bill would still follow established rules, laws as well as the Constitution.
Romuadez said their target to pass the 2020 GAB by December would mean growth for the country’s economy.
“[Our] GDP (gross domestic product) will grow, and I think all the budget and revenue reforms will even help us get a credit upgrade which will now bring our interest down and provide for us billions of savings,” he said./gsg
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