MANILA – The House of Representatives has vowed transparency as it approved the proposed PHP4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 on second reading after Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano moved to terminate plenary debates on Tuesday.
Cayetano moved to terminate the period of debates as well as the period of amendments for House Bill 7727, or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill.
Cayetano said he moved to end the period of interpellations and amendments on 2021 GAB to prove that he was not holding the budget bill hostage to hold on to the speakership post — an accusation thrown at him by his rival, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
“Applying Section 55 of our rules, I move to terminate the period of debates of House Bill 7727, otherwise known as the GAB,” Cayetano said in a speech before the House plenary
He assured that the 2021 national budget will be transparent to the public.
Cayetano further moved to create a small group of lawmakers that will deliberate the proposed committee and individual amendments on the 2021 GAB, which will be chaired by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.
Apart from Romualdez, the committed is also composed by Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, and Representatives Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Junie Cua, Henry Oaminal, Joey Salceda, Stella Quimbo, Mike Defensor, Manix Dalipe, Teodorico Haresco Jr., Elpidio Barzaga Jr., and Aileen Ermita-Buhain.
“With full powers to entertain committee as well as individual amendments by the members to be submitted to the committee on appropriations on or before November 5 and consequently moved to terminate the period of amendments,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the House members in groups of five to 10 can talk directly to Cabinet members to express their concerns about the budget, instead of conducting plenary deliberations.
Personal, sectoral reports
In his speech, Cayetano also came up with a folder containing reports which will be distributed to each one of the lawmakers to “fill in the blanks”.
“I came up with this. We will make a folder, [with] personal district report, and personal sectoral report. This is your file,” he said. We will work on your projects during the break.”
Cayetano said the move intends to make sure that before sending project proposals to the senate, each and every district could be able to work on it.
“This paper represents real lives. Every classroom, every teacher, every farm-to-market road, someone will benefit. This is not a pork barrel. This is what the people need,” he added. “Maybe this time, instead of the Congress versus the departments, it will be Congress with the department in fighting poverty and corruption in this pandemic.”
Following the approval of the 2021 GAB on the second reading, the House has suspended the plenary session until November 16 at 3 p.m.
The approval of the 2021 GAB on second reading was expected to be finished on the plenary deliberations on Friday, while the House is supposed to suspend its session on October 17, as stated under the legislative calendar for the second regular session of the 18th Congress. (PNA)