HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Friday evening assured President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte that the House leadership will immediately act next week on his request to pass the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 on third and final reading.
“We appeal to all our colleagues to give their full cooperation in ensuring the swift enactment of legal and constitutional General Appropriations Bill (GAB) as requested by President Duterte to support his vision for the nation in the years to come,” said Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules, in a statement after Duterte on late Friday afternoon called for a special session of Congress on October 13 to 16 to pass House Bill (HB) 7727 or the national budget and at the same time certified it as an urgent measure.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also welcomed the President’s call for a special session.
“As we commit our nation and the People’s 2021 Budget to the Almighty, we welcome President Duterte’s call for a Special Session of Congress on October 13 to 16. We trust his wisdom on how to address issues concerning the budget, and thank him for his continued confidence by allowing Congress to pass the General Appropriations Bill free from the specter of politicking and intrigues that we had originally sought to avoid. In the meantime, Congress shall continue to work and prepare for the swift passage of this measure, and to ensure that it will be responsive and relevant to the government’s overall recovery efforts for 2021,” Cayetano said in his Facebook post.
Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., president of the National Unity Party (NUP), also assured Duterte that his congressional allies will work hard to pass the national budget without any delay immediately. “The passage of the national budget next week is good as done. We also guarantee that the approval of President Duterte’s priority bills will be realized with efficiency for the welfare of the Filipino people,” said Barzaga, a lawyer and chairman of the House committee on natural resources.
After passing the national budget on second reading last Tuesday, the House of Representatives suspended its session until November 16, the date of the resumption of session after the Halloween break.
“I fully support President Duterte’s call to resume plenary discussions in Congress from October 13 to October 16 to take up the proposed national expenditure plan for 2021 and to ensure its passage without delay in accordance with the Constitution and existing laws,” said Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), also said that “members of the super majority and our colleagues from the constructive minority bloc are one with the Duterte administration in the implementation of its comprehensive plan to rebuild the Philippine economy, defeat the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) and ensure that government services are not derailed.” “The very transparent process of budget deliberations will always be observed to ensure its legality and constitutionality in our main intention to serve the people. So much legislation has been passed, but we will continue to work harder to approve other priority bills outlined by President Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) despite the limitations and challenges caused by the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Romualdez.