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Lacson: No reason to delay submission of budget

FILE Sen. Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) cannot use the absence of Secretary Wendel Avisado as an excuse for the imminent delay in the submission by the executive department of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said on Monday.

He said the DBM could not extend the 30-day mandatory period for Malacañang’s submission of the NEP, as the agency had an “abundance of competent and capable” career officers.

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According to Lacson, DBM officials can use the benefit of telecommunications to complete the national government’s spending plan for 2022.

Lacson made the statement following apprehensions that the executive department’s preparations of the 2022 NEP will be delayed by Avisado’s prolonged absence.

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Avisado will be on medical leave from Aug. 2 to Aug. 13 purportedly to recover from his bout with COVID-19, for which he was supposedly hospitalized for eight days, and was under quarantine for “over a month.”

Start budget hearings

Lacson said Avisado’s absence could neither be a reason for Congress not to hold committee hearings to start their simultaneous scrutiny of the executive budget for 2022.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, for his part, on Monday belied reports that Avisado has resigned or has been fired.

“As of now, those are rumors,” Roque said at his press briefing.

But the spokesperson’s information on Avisado appeared not to have come from President Duterte but from the press statement issued by the DBM on Sunday evening.

Final budget submitted

“I received a copy of the press release of the DDM. I have no basis to question the accuracy of that press release. He’s on medical leave,“ Roque said.

Roque said that before Avisado started his leave, he submitted the final NEP or the 2022 proposed budget.

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“It’s now being printed for submission to Congress,” he said.

Roque, quoting the DBM statement, said Tina Rose Marie Canda, undersecretary for the DBM, would be the officer in charge during Avisado’s medical leave.

Avisado, 68, was asked by his doctor to take a medical leave so he can undergo a series of examinations as it has been 14 years since he had a quadruple open heart bypass.

“Rest assured that the DBM remains steadfast and committed to its mandate of promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget to support its budget priorities especially in the midst of the pandemic,” the DBM said.

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TAGS: 2022 national budget, DBM, Panfilo Lacson, Wendel Avisado
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