Velasco joins calls to resume House sessions: ‘Time to set aside political differences’
MANILA, Philippines — It is time for the House of Representatives to “set aside political differences” and focus on the 2021 national budget.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco issued this call Thursday, stressing that the passage of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is a far bigger issue than the battle for the speakership.
Velasco joined the clamor of other lawmakers for House plenary sessions to resume and legislate the GAB.
The Marinduque congressman also said that it is a “great disservice” to Filipinos to blackmail the Executive Department or to hold the budget hostage “to cede to one’s personal ambition” or “political whim.”
“This is the time to set aside political differences against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic. The budget issue is far bigger than the fight for speakership,” he said in a statement.
“Blackmailing the Executive Department to cede to one’s personal ambition or holding the budget hostage in order to achieve one’s political whim is a great disservice to the Filipino people,” Velasco added.
Taking many by surprise, the House on Tuesday terminated deliberations on the budget bill, upon the motion of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and approved it on second reading. Cayetano and his allies also subsequently moved to suspend the House’s session until November 16.
The move to approve the budget bill on second reading without the full budget process and the suspension of sessions “imperiled the enactment of vital measures,” according to Velasco.
“The premature termination of budget deliberations has signaled the alarm bells from the halls of Congress to the Senate, from the nation’s economic managers to the business community.”
“We should not fail our people whose lives and health needs depend on the programs of this government. We should not fail President Duterte in helping him achieve the agenda he has set to improve the lives of our countrymen,” he added.
Earlier, the Makabayan bloc called for the resumption of budget deliberations so that the issues on health, education, and jobs can be prioritized.