House approves P2.6T nat’l budget
MANILA, Philippines – Despite the minority’s efforts to block its passage, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading the P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015.
But not without the minority bloc putting up a fight.
The group claimed that the President’s certification of the budget bill as urgent does not mean it has to be passed, especially with its errata portions.
At least 198 representatives moved to approved the budget, while 18 voted no and none abstained. Meanwhile, there were no abstentions.
Among those who voted no are members of the Makabayan bloc, Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, and United Nationalist Alliance interim president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco.
The minority had traditionally opposed the budget in the plenary. The bloc in a press conference claimed the 2015 budget is the President’s campaign kitty as it comes on the heels of the 2016 presidential elections.
Majority leader Neptali Gonzales II moved for the plenary to approve the bill on third reading, but Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio objected to the motion, saying under the House rules a budget bill must be certified as urgent if it contains funds for calamities.
But Presiding Officer Deputy Speaker Carlos Padilla said as in the previous congresses, a budget bill need only be certified as urgent by the President even without calamity funds.
“All we ask is time to review the submission by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Is that unfair?!” Atienza said.
“Hindi natin alam anong bill ina-approve natin. I don’t know, Mr. Speaker,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also said.
Gonzales said the minority should not block the passage of the bill as it is their constitutional mandate to approve the budget on time.
“Enacting the budget is not only the duty of Congress, it’s the duty of Congress as pronounced by the Constitution,” Gonzales said.
Bayan Muna had claimed that at least P430 billion of the P2.606 trillion budget is part of the DBM errata. Appropriations panel chair Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab called Bayan Muna’s claims as “misleading” and said that the DBM wants to correct only P4.7 billion of the budget.
Before the budget approval, Gonzales figured in a debate with Colmenares over what the militant solon claimed as questionable P423 billion budget for the Allocation for Local Government Units (ALGU).
Colmenares asked if the ALGU budget is part of the errata. But Gonzales said the ALGU cannot be considered an errata because it is lumped with the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), which is an automatic appropriation.
“I think there is a misunderstanding on what is being referred as errata. There are no errata in so far as the IRA is concerned,” Gonzales said of the local government unit’s automatic appropriation on their share of the income tax.
After third reading, the bill will be transmitted to the Senate where it will undergo its own deliberation. The bill will then be approved by the bicameral conference committee composed of both Houses of Congress, which will consolidate its two versions of the budget.
The bill will then be transmitted to the President for final approval.
The proposed 2015 budget is 15.1 percent higher than the approved 2014 budget worth P2.265 trillion.
The Makabayan bloc had vowed to question the 2015 budget before the Supreme Court.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.