House defers deliberations on BIR’s proposed 2021 budget
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday deferred the deliberations on the budget proposal of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for 2021 due to the absence of Commissioner Caesar Dulay.
On the first day of the floor deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante quizzed Rep. Horacio Suansing regarding the funding for the BIR, saying that the public deserves to know that the bureau is free of corrupt activities.
Suansing defended the proposed budget of the Department of Finance (DOF) and its attached agencies and corporations—including the BIR.
“Kinakailangan malaman ng taumbayan ang lahat ng mga bagay na ito upang mawala sa kanilang kaisipan na ang BIR pala ay corrupt din. Nais natin na maging maganda ang position ng BIR para sila ay makakulekta ng malaki para sa ating pamahalaan at para sa ating taumbayan,” Abante said.
(The public needs to know so that their mindset that the BIR is corrupt will be removed. We want to make BIR’s position clean so that they can collect for the government and the public.)
During his interpellation, Abante asked if Dulay was present in the plenary.
However, Suansing said he can arrange a meeting between Dulay and Abante since the BIR commissioner was not able to attend due to a health-related matter.
“Of course, they can always have a very good reason to absent ourselves in very important budget deliberations in the plenary. Perhaps, [his] good reason is valid,” Abante said.
“Siguro kinakailangan, ang gawin ng ating good commissioner is to give us a record, including his bill of health so that we would be able to know because this is a budget deliberation in the plenary and [he] must be here even in Zoom,” the lawmaker added.
(Maybe what the good commissioner can do is give us a record, including his bill of health so that we would be able to know because this is a budget deliberation in the plenary and [he] must be here even in Zoom.)
Suansing, however, clarified that the secretariat informed him that non-House members are not allowed to access the Zoom hearing for the plenary budget debates.
Nonetheless, Abante demanded that Dulay apologize to Congress as he threatened to defer the budget deliberations of the internal revenue bureau.
“I demand that the commissioner of the BIR speak to me personally. I demand that the [he] ought to apologize to this Congress. I demand that [he] submit a record of [his] record of his condition to this chamber or I will move for the deferment of this budget of the BIR,” Abante said.
Later in the plenary deliberations, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate moved to terminate the interpellation on the budget proposal of DOF, except the BIR, in response to the manifestation of Abante.
“Considering that there are no more members of the minority who will interpellate the good sponsor, may I move to terminate the interpellation for the budget of the Department of Finance including its attached agencies except the budget of the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” Zarate said.
“We move to defer the consideration of the budget of BIR for the failure of its head, Commissioner Dulay, to be present in the deliberations of the budget—either physically or in Zoom while the budget is interpellated as manifested earlier by the minority leader,” he added.
This was backed by the majority bloc and was consequently approved.
This was not the first time that Abante sought the deferment of a budget hearing of a government office due to the absence of its officials.
In an earlier committee hearing, Abante moved to defer the deliberations on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) since there were only two undersecretaries and three assistant secretaries who were physically present at the plenary floor.[ac]
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