AFTER four days of protracted plenary deliberation, the House of Representatives has finished scrutinizing the budgets of 39 departments, agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations.
This figure represents 54 percent of the 72 total number of government offices scheduled for plenary deliberations.
The House of Representatives targets to pass the 2020 proposed national budget on second reading by September 20.
Likewise, members agreed to approve it on final reading on or before October 5.
According to Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla, this is an admirable feat considering that the House also managed to pass four priority measures in record time.
The latest is the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) which was approved on third and final reading right in the middle of the fourth day of budget deliberations.
Remulla expressed elation that the House of Representatives is halfway done.
He attributed the smooth operation to the efficiency of House Members and the innovations introduced by Speaker Alan Peter “Companero” Cayetano to ensure the timely approval of the 2020 national budget.
Remulla explained that even prior to the plenary debates, the departments hold pre-plenary meetings during which House Members discuss their district and sectoral concerns.
“This way, floor discussions were mainly about the policy, budget and expenditure programs of the department or agency concerned,” he said.
“Under the guidance of Speaker Cayetano, our plenary officers led by Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Committee on Appropriations chairman Rep. Isidro Ungab deftly dealt with the situation whenever the debates were prolonged by numerous issues raised on the budgets of certain offices. They managed to keep the debates relevant and directly related to the budgets of the concerned offices,” he added.
Another innovation of the Speaker was to hold regular meetings with the leadership of the Committee on Appropriations to thresh out their concerns during the budget committee hearings and plenary budget deliberations.
“This way, the Speaker offered them, especially the first-time Vice Chairpersons of the Committee on Appropriations, ideas on how to better handle situations,” Remulla said.
The House has so far completed the plenary deliberations of 39 offices, namely: Department of Finance; National Economic Development Authority; Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council; Film Development Council of the Philippines; Optical Media Board; Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority; Cagayan Economic Zone Authority; Cultural Center of the Philippines; Credit Information Corporation; The Judiciary; Ombudsman; Philippine Center for Economic Development; Presidential Communications Operations Office; Movie and Television Review and Classification Board; Civil Service Commission; Department of Trade and Industry; Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; Bases Conversion and Development Authority; Department of Justice; Games and Amusements Board; Philippine Sports Commission; Philippine Racing Commission; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; Department of Health (including attached agencies); Department of Science and Technology (including attached agencies/corporations); State Universities and Colleges (except The Philippine State Colleges of Aeronautics, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the University of the Philippines); Philippine Competition Commission; Commission on Higher Education.