Castro questions anew need to certify budget bill as urgent
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition lawmaker and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro questioned again the need to certify the proposed 2024 national budget as urgent, saying that the House only saved two days after the bill was transmitted to the Senate on Saturday.
Castro in a text message forwarded by her office to INQUIRER.net said that Saturday’s transmittal of House Bill (HB) No. 8980 or the House version of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is one of the reasons why they voted against the said proposed measure.
Earlier, before the special joint session held to welcome Japan Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe moved to transmit HB No. 8980 to the Senate.
This means the Senate would receive the budget bill just two days before Monday, November 6, when Congress’ session resumes after over a month break.
“Isa sa reasons yan bakit kami nag-no sa budget. Though ang nagawa lang nila ay nakatipid ng ilang araw,” Castro said.
(That’s one of the reasons why we voted ‘no’ regarding the budget. What they were able to do was only to save a few days.)
Last September 20, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. certified the urgency of passing the GAB, which contains the P5.768 trillion 2024 national budget, to ensure that government operations continue after 2023.
If a proposed measure is certified as urgent by a sitting president, Congress can disregard the requirement of waiting for three session days first before bills approved on the second reading are considered for the third and final reading.
This means that the House was able to approve HB No. 8980 on the second and third reading on the same day, last September 27. House leaders said that the reason behind the speedy approval of the budget bill is to ensure that the Senate has enough time to deliberate the House version of the GAB.
However, Castro maintained that the certification of urgency is being abused as the House could have waited for just two more days before the bill was approved, once the session resumed.
“Kung hindi certified urgent, kailangan muna mag-resume ang session, approve on 3rd, then transmit sa Senate. Naabuso na talaga ang certification of urgency ng mga legislative measures,” she added.
(If it was not certified urgent, they need to resume session first, approve on the third reading, and then transmit to the Senate. They have really abused the certification of urgency of legislative measures.)
This is not the first time that Castro slammed the certification of the budget bill as urgent. Last September 21, Castro questioned the President’s move, saying that the budget would not be used yet even if the government hastens the budget approval.
According to the lawmaker, there were instances in the past where the House took around 10 to 15 days before a committee report of a proposed budget was approved on third reading.
Under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Castro pointed out that the proposed 2023 and 2024 budgets were only deliberated for seven days on the plenary before approval.