Defensor vows to pass budget on time despite suspension of House debates
MANILA, Philippines — Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor gave assurance Thursday that the proposed 2021 national budget will be passed on time amid the leadership row at the House of Representatives, which stalled budget deliberations.
Defensor, who initiated the motion to suspend the budget deliberations in the lower chamber until October 2, said that the proposed funding for next year will be passed on second reading before they go on recess on October 17.
During Wednesday’s session, Defensor said that the suspension of the budget deliberations would give the lower chamber time to address the lawmakers’ concerns regarding funding for various government programs.
“It was not intended to hold the proposed budget hostage but to quicken deliberations when the funding proposals of these agencies are up for scrutiny in plenary,” Defensor said in a statement.
The lawmaker likewise said that the lower chamber still has enough time to meet Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s promise to send the budget bill to President Rodrigo Duterte in the first half of December.
“We have enough time to beat that deadline and approve an equitable and pandemic-responsive budget so the President could sign it before the end of 2020,” Defensor said.
Defensor made the motion to suspend the budget deliberations right after the lower chamber rejected Cayetano’s offer to resign from his post amid the issues hounding the term-sharing agreement between the Speaker and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco who was reported to take over starting October 14.
In a Facebook post-Wednesday night, Velasco made it clear he was not satisfied by the move to suspend the budget deliberations.
“It is most unfortunate, therefore, that today, deliberations on the budget were suspended. Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage,” Velasco said.
“We lost an entire day, and even tomorrow where you (Cayetano) have declared that no session will be conducted, which are crucial in meeting our timeline. These attacks and distractions serve no purpose other than to perpetuate what is a purely personal agenda threatening to delay the passage of the budget. This is the truth,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.