Public directly asking resource persons on budget hearings ‘against the rules’ — solon
MANILA, Philippines — Just as the House of Representatives is set to begin Monday’s hearings for the proposed 2021 budget, a lawmaker questioned the “people’s initiative” in the event, saying it goes against the lower chamber’s rules.
Before deliberating on the proposed budget of the Department on Agrarian Reform (DAR), ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Yap, who chairs the House committee on appropriations, said that there is a “people’s initiative,” allowing the public—including those in the academe—to directly ask questions to the resource persons invited in the hearings.
Cagayan De Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez clarified Yap’s statement, asking if the committee essentially was allowing non-members of the House to propose questions to the resource persons.
“Siguro mga dalawa. Mga professor from La Salle (De La Salle University) at yung iba sa UP (University of the Philippines),” Yap responded.
But this goes against the appropriations committee’s rules, Rodriguez argued.
“That would be against the rules. Committee of appropriations hearings are for members of Congress,” Rodriguez said.
The Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said that the public can course their questions through their representatives.
“We can do that. Kung ayaw niyong marinig ang boses ng mga ordinaryong tao dito sa floor, by your suggestion, I can do that. Just say it, and I will do it,” Yap said.
“We follow the rules of the House, wag natin pakinggan ang boses ng ibang tao according to Cong. Rufus Rodriguez then let’s do it. Thank you for your suggestion, Cong. Rufus na wag muna silang marinig ngayon at tayo na lang ang magsalita,” the appropriations chair added.
Rodriguez maintained his stand on the issue, saying that rules have to be followed unless amended.
“They can course through their representatives. That is our rules. Unless we amend our rules in the plenary, the rule stays,” Rodriguez said.
At this point, Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman proposed a “Solomonic arrangement” where representatives can instead read the questions of the public sent through social media.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the public would be given a chance to “directly participate” in deliberations on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.
“Since the start of this pandemic, Congress has taken advantage of these new technologies to continue doing our work. Now, as we deliberate on the budget, we can use these same systems to allow our fellow citizens – not just to watch, but to directly participate in the process,” Cayetano said.
“This is going to be the first time that this will be done, so there might be some growing pains. But we want to make sure that it is as inclusive and comprehensive as possible,” he added.
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