Palace hails House ap­proval of ₱4.5-T 2021 nat’l bud­get

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By AR­GYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS and VANNE ELAINE P. TERRAZOLA

Mala­cañang hailed the ap­proval of the pro­posed ₱4.5-tril­lion 2021 na­tional bud­get by the

House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on third and fi­nal read­ing Fri­day, say­ing it will go a long way in the coun­try's fight against the coron­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19) pan­demic.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Sec­re­tary Martin An­da­nar made the state­ment af­ter the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was able to de­liver on its prom­ise to pass the bud­get on Oct. 16 de­spite the lead­er­ship row.

In a state­ment, Roque thanked the House for do­ing its part in pass­ing the bud­get but hoped they will be able to trans­mit the printed copy to the Se­nate soon.

"We thank the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for pass­ing on third and fi­nal read­ing the 2021 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Bill (GAB) on time or within the spe­cial ses­sion called by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Roa Duterte," he said.

"We hope the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives would trans­mit its printed copy to the Se­nate as soon as pos­si­ble so that the Up­per Cham­ber would be given am­ple time to act on this leg­isla­tive mea­sure, which has been cer­ti­fied ur­gent by the Pres­i­dent," he added.

Duterte called on Congress to a spe­cial ses­sion to en­able them to re­sume de­lib­er­a­tions on the bud­get af­ter the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives un­der for­mer Speaker

Alan Peter Cayetano sus­pended ses­sions early this month af­ter pass­ing the bud­get bill on sec­ond read­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Roque, Duterte has on many oc­ca­sions, ar­tic­u­lated the im­por­tance of the timely pas­sage of the bud­get, es­pe­cially at a time of the pan­demic where re­sources are needed to fund gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tions to mit­i­gate the ad­verse ef­fects of the virus.

An­da­nar, on the other hand, lauded the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for meet­ing the dead­line, say­ing the 2021 bud­get will go a long way in the gov­ern­ment's COVID-19 re­sponse ef­forts.

"We laud the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, un­der the lead­erPres­i­dent ship of House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Ve­lasco, for the ap­proval of the ₱4.506-tril­lion 2021 GAB on its third and fi­nal read­ing," he said.

"We hope that the Se­nate's de­lib­er­a­tion on the 2021 GAB will be swift and ef­fi­cient, in or­der for us to be on track to­wards ful­fill­ing our man­date to the Filipinos and our goal of heal­ing, re­bound­ing, and re­cov­er­ing as one na­tion," An­da­nar said.

Enough time

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Juan Miguel Zu­biri on Satur­day like­wise thanked the Lower House for heeding their re­quest to trans­mit the ₱4.5-tril­lion pro­posed 2021 bud­get to the Up­per cham­ber within the month.

"Ma­bilis po ang aksyon ng Ka­mara (The House acted im­me­di­ately on our re­quest). Nag­pa­pasala­mat po kami sa kanila dahil (We thank them be­cause) it will make our work in the Se­nate eas­ier," Zu­biri said in an in­ter­view over ra­dio DWIZ.

On Fri­day, Se­na­tor Juan Edgardo An­gara, Se­nate fi­nance com­mit­tee chair­man, said the House lead­er­ship com­mit­ted to sub­mit copies of the GAB on the last week of Oc­to­ber.

Zu­biri said the com­mit­ment of the House will give sen­a­tors enough time to study the bud­get bill and help speed up dis­cus­sions of the gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture plan.

He pro­jected that by the end of Novem­ber, the Se­nate would have ap­proved its ver­sion of the GAB and have the bi­cam­eral meet­ings early De­cem­ber.

On sus­pi­cions that the House planned to tweak the bud­get af­ter the third read­ing pas­sage, Zu­biri, a for­mer con­gress­man, said "it's been a prac­tice" to fi­nal­ize the bill af­ter the cham­ber has al­ready ap­proved its pro­vi­sions.

"Nag­ing prac­tice noon at ngayon (It has be­come a prac­tice then un­til now that) af­ter we ap­proved it in prin­ci­ple sa ple­naryo (in ple­nary), in­aayos nila (to or­ga­nize it). Parang sa atin, tinatawag natin, na 'sub­ject to style' (That's what we call 'sub­ject to style'). Pero sa atin more of gram­mat­i­cal er­rors, 'yong mga konting amend­ments lang, sa kanila, sa bud­get kasi pwe­deng gi­na­gawa po nila 'yon (But for the Se­nate it's more of fix­ing the gram­mat­i­cal er­rors, some mi­nor amend­ments, but in the bud­get, they might be amend­ing that)," he ex­plained.

"Kaya gusto namin masilip muna ng Oct. 28 para makita natin ang amend­ments na gi­nawa nila na wala sa orig­i­nal NEP na sin­ub­mit po ng ex­ec­u­tive sa kanila (That's why we wanted to look at it by Oct. 28 so we can see their amend­ments from the orig­i­nal Na­tional Ex­pen­di­ture Plan that the Ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment sub­mit­ted to them)," he added.

The Se­nate will re­sume ses­sions on Novem­ber 9.

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