House OKs proposed 2021 budget on 2nd reading; session suspended until Nov. 16
MANILA, Philippines — In an unexpected move and amid the speakership row, the House of Representatives approved on Tuesday on second reading the proposed national budget for 2021.
Via voice voting, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 7727, or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Following his speech delivered before his colleagues where he talked about the proposed budget amid the speakership row, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano moved to terminate the period of debates on GAB even if there are still a number of agencies lined up for deliberations.
“Applying Section 55 of our rules, I move to terminate the period of debates of House Bill 7727, otherwise known as the GAB,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano, likewise, moved to create a committee “with full powers to entertain committee as well as individual amendments by the members to be submitted to the committee on appropriations on or before November 5.”
The House Speaker said proposed amendments shall be submitted to the created committee until November 5.
“While we usually open the period of amendments after the period of debates by entertaining committee and individual amendments, for this purpose and for all members to be able to propose directly, I move that we create a small committee that we have done before, except before it was only individual amendments,” Cayetano said.
The committee is composed of Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal, Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap as well as vice chair Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Committee on Banks and Intermediaries chair Junie Cua, Committee on Ways and Means chair Joey Salceda, Committee on Economic Affairs chair Teodorico Haresco Jr.
Also included are Representatives Stella Quimbo, Mike Defensor, Manix Dalipe, Elpidio Barzaga Jr., and Aileen Ermita-Buhain.
This consequently terminated the period of amendments.
With the period of debates and amendments now closed, a motion was made to approve the proposed 2021 budget on second reading. The motion was seconded and approved.
Right before Cayetano moved to terminate the period of debates and amendments, he denied holding the budget hostage as claimed by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco who he has a term-sharing agreement with.
“Sabi ni Congressman Velasco, hostage ko daw yung budget. Kung hostage ko budget, I will now move to defer the budget and to take it up in November—if hino-hostage ko ‘yung budget,” Cayetano said.
“But I will prove to Congressman Velasco and his cohorts today I am not hostaging the budget,” he added.
In his speech, Cayetano assured the public that House will work “harder and smarter to give you a relevant, responsive budget you can be proud of.”
“It won’t be four books, hindi ito apat na libro na hindi natin mabasa at hindi natin maramdaman ang gobyerno. Ang gusto ni Presidente Duterte, ramdam niyo ang gobyerno,” Cayetano said as he vowed that the budget process will be transparent.
Cayetano then said he would give lawmakers “personal district reports” and “personal sectoral reports.”
“We will give one to your chief of staff, one to my office, we will fill in the blanks. We will work on your budgets during the break,” Cayetano said.
“Walang lump sum dito, we will specify this. But on the agreement with Senator Lacson, dadaan ito sa inyong district engineers, sa regional directors, sa directors ng ibang agency to make sure it’s not pork barrel. But I will handle this with you individually and we will have coordinators,” he added.
Consequently, the session was suspended until November 16, skipping the expected speakership turnover date from Cayetano to Velasco as part of the term-sharing agreement between the two lawmakers.
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