A veteran solon is calling for more session days for the deliberation on the proposed 2021 national budget.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said there is a need for President Rodrigo Duterte to amend his call to accommodate four more session days or for the Senate and the House to amend the legislative calendar.
“Although the four-day special session of the Congress from October 13 to 16, 2020 called by President Rodrigo Duterte is welcome as it is needed to resume consideration of the national budget, the short period may not be sufficient to assure the approval on second and third readings of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (HB No. 7727),” Lagman said.
“An additional period of four days from October 19 to 22, 2020 is necessary in order that the committee and individual amendments to the appropriation measure can be considered and approved by Plenary before second reading,” he added.
Because of the abrupt passage of the 2021 proposed national budget on second reading, various major agencies and big line item budgets were left unchecked by the House of Representatives.
Cayetano had moved to terminate the period of debate and passed the budget on second reading. He likewise moved to suspend session until November 16.
Lagman, a stalwart of the Liberal party, said that what happened is unprecedented in the history of the Lower Chamber which consequently failed to scrutinze the budgets of major departments of the government.
The budgets that remain to be looked into are those of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); Department of Transportation (DoTr); Department of Education (DepEd); Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT); Department of Tourism (DoT); Department of Health; (DoH); Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Department of Energy (DoE); Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Also pending for deliberations are the proposed budgets of the constitutional offices like the Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit and the Civil Service Commission, together with the Commission on Human Rights.
Even the proposed appropriations for all the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) have not been debated upon, including other executive offices like the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Climate Change Commission and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and many others.
Meanwhile Makabayan bloc members Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite and Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas are not in favor of terminating the debates on the P16-billion NTF-ELCAC.
“The abrupt termination of the plenary debate and interpellation on the 2021 budget must not temper our legitimate calls for the defunding of the highly notorious NTF-ELCAC and other programs on spreading fake news and targeting dissidents, and for the increase in the budget for critical health programs, social amelioration and other social services,” the progressive solons said.