MAJORITY Leader Martin Romualdez yesterday called on the members of the House to put the budget approval ahead of politics.
At the same time, allies of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in a press conference appealed to the lawmakers to focus during the special session on the deliberation and passage of the 2021 national budget.
“The budget before politics. Let us pass the national budget as requested by the President for 2021 on third and final reading on Friday, October 16,” Romualdez told his colleagues.
“I spoke to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea awhile ago, he reconfirmed that President Duterte’s call for a special session under Proclamation No. 1027 is for Congress to resume the congressional deliberations on the proposed national budget,” Romualdez said.
The President also certified the appropriatiions bill as an urgent measure.
“Politics such as the Speakership issue will be tackled after the passage of the national budget to assure a smooth transition,” Romualdez added.
In a press conference, Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said political issues like the Speakership turnover should be set aside on October 13 to 16.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte has called the House of Representatives to conduct special session to finish the budget on third and final reading. The President expressed concern over a possible reeneacted budget due to the ongoing rift between Cayetano and Speaker-in-waiting Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
“Focus tayo sa budget, pero kung kailangan magkakaroon ng botohan kung sino ang magiging Speaker,” Defensor said.
“Let’s approve the budget first. We are hoping that everyone should concentrate on the budget,” Pichay added, saying it is the reason why the President called for special session.
Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice said while there are members of the Liberal party in both majority and minority groups they are still one in heeding the call of the President to pass the budget on time.
House appropriations committee chairman Eric Go Yap said he is set to meet with Speaker Cayetano tomorrow to discuss the 2021 national budget amounting to P4.5 trillion which was already approved on second reading.
Yap expressed optimism that the budget will be approved on third reading within the 4-day special session.
“Ang ginawa namin, kami ay bumuo ng team bago mag-recess at kami ay patuloy na nakikipag-coordinate. Inaalam namin yung kailangan ng agencies pa, yung mga parochial concerns ng congressmen at yung amendments ng mga agencies. Sa totoo lang yung 13 to 16 para sa akin kaya na,” Yap said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, the PDP-Laban leadership has issued a statement urging members of the House to honor the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Velasco.
The statement comes after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio met Velasco last Friday. A photo of the two circulated.