Done under 30 minutes: House panel ditches scrutiny of OP budget despite pandemic fund mess | Inquirer News
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Sticking to 'tradition'

Done under 30 minutes: House panel ditches scrutiny of OP budget despite pandemic fund mess

/ 11:50 AM September 03, 2021
The House of Representatives is eyeing to confer the Medal of Distinction to the three Filipino boxers who bagged Olympic medals.

Plenary Hall of the House of Representatives. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — Despite objections from opposition lawmakers, the House committee on appropriations opted to stick to “tradition” and immediately terminated deliberations on the proposed budget of the Office of the President (OP)—with debates only lasting around 28 minutes.

Immediately after opening the hearing, Pangasinan 6th District Rep. Tyrone Agabas moved to terminate deliberations on the proposed budget of the OP, citing a “long-established tradition of extending parliamentary courtesy to a co-equal branch of the government.”

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The motion was seconded but was objected to by Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, prompting Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, who was presiding, to temporarily suspend the hearing.

When the hearing resumed, Dalipe said Elago’s objection cannot be counted as the latter is not a member of the appropriations committee.

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Nonetheless, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said that the supposed “tradition” should not be observed this time as the proposed budget still needs to be scrutinized—particularly the intelligence funds and the funding for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“Malaki ang pangangailangan natin sa ating pagtugon sa pandemya, malaki ang pangangailangan natin sa education para magpatuloy pag-aaral ng mga mag-aaral at pangangailangan ng teachers, at iba pang sektor,” Castro said.

(There is a huge need to respond to the pandemic. There is a huge need to fund education for our students and teachers and other sectors.)

“‘Yung tradition natin… hindi dapat i-apply ngayon ‘yan. Marami tayong pangangailangan ngayong panahon ng pandemya na maaaring pagkuhanan mula doon sa inilaan na budget sa OP,” she added.

(The tradition should not be applied this time around. We have a lot of needs at this time of pandemic and we can source these funds from the OP.)

Dalipe assured lawmakers “they don’t have to worry” as they can scrutinize the OP budget on the plenary floor.

Appropriations Committee chair Eric Yap likewise made the same assurance to lawmakers.

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“Sa plenary, doon mabibigyan lahat ng pagkakataon. Makakapagtanong lahat ng members. Wala tayong tinatago… Lahat ng myembro ay mabibigyan ng pagkakataon na magtanong,” Yap said.

(Everyone will be given a chance to interpellate in the plenary. Everyone can ask questions. We are not hiding anything… all members will be given the chance to ask.)

“Briefing lang naman po ang committee natin. Hindi naman ito talaga yung deliberation ng plenary. Magkakaroon talaga ng deliberation sa plenary,” he added.

(What we do in our committee is just a briefing. This is not yet the plenary deliberations.)

In previous years, the deliberations on the budget of the OP only took minutes before the House committee on appropriations.

In 2019, the proposed budget of the OP was approved in less than six minutes while in 2018, the budget proposal of the highest office in the government was approved by the House’s appropriations committee in less than 10 minutes.

An outlier was the 2020 deliberations which lasted nearly two hours.

Once all agencies have presented their proposed budgets before the appropriations committee, further deliberations will take place in the House plenary before the budget is approved and transmitted to the Senate.

EDV

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TAGS: 2022 national budget, House of Representatives, Office of the President, pandemic funds
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