House announces bicam contingent to tackle 2024 proposed budget
MANILA, Philippines — Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, and Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. headline the House contingent to the bicameral conference committee on the disagreeing provisions in the proposed 2024 national budget.
During Wednesday’s session, Sorsogon 2nd District Rep. Wowo Fortes, House assistant majority leader, moved that the following lawmakers be designated to the bicameral conference committee to thresh out issues in the House and the Senate’s versions of House Bill No. 8980 or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB):
- Co, House appropriations committee chairperson
- Quimbo, committee senior vice chair
- Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto
- Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe, House majority leader
- Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, House assistant majority leader
- Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez
- Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales III
- Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Jose Aquino II
- Ako Bicol Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon
- Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona
- Rizal 1st District Rep. Michael John Duavit
- 4Ps Rep. Marcelino Libanan, House minority leader
The Senate passed its version of the budget bill on Tuesday, approving on third reading the P5.768 trillion GAB after a certification of urgency from the Office of the President.
There have been reports that the bicameral conference committee would start convening on Thursday, November 30. Details of the location, however, have not been revealed as of now.
Central to the crafting of the proposed 2024 national budget are discussions on confidential funds (CF), which the House removed from several government agencies like the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd), which requested for a P500 million and P150 million secret fund for 2024.
All in all, P1.23 billion worth of confidential funds were removed from civilian agencies that did not have a mandate to investigate or do surveillance activities. Such funds were realigned to offices involved in securing the West Philippine Sea.
Last November 7, several Senators said they agreed with the House’s move to remove the CF of some agencies. However, Minority Leader and Senator Koko Pimentel feared that the CF of OVP and DepEd — both under Vice President Sara Duterte — might be put back during the bicam discussions.
Co meanwhile allayed such concerns, saying in a separate statement that budget talks would turn out smoothly considering the Senate had already manifested that they will follow the House’ lead in removing CF from civilian agencies.