MANILA, Philippines – “It would be easier for a camel to pass through a needle than to have the House version of the proposed P4.1-billion 2020 national budget pass the Senate,” so to speak.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III made the statement after their Monday caucus. They all agreed that they cannot readily approve and adopt the House version due to several amendments that need to be done in the budget.
“We discussed the schedule. We cannot adopt it. Many amendments necessary,” said Senate President Sotto.
The senators arrived at that decision amid Senator Panfilo Lacson’s expose of the purported “parked” funds for several government agencies amounting to P20-billion, with no detailed item on where and how it is going to be used.
Some senators have also expressed their sentiments against an immediate passage of the House version of the budget.
Senator Lacson asked for transparency as the hearing on the proposed budget continues.
He asked to have the proposed amendments submitted by his fellow lawmakers be made public, especially when the proposed budget is referred to the bicameral conference committee. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday (Sept. 5) appealed to the House of Representatives (HOR) to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte.
This is to give the government more latitude in addressing the traffic problems, particularly in Metro Manila.
While DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade agrees to the lawmakers that several traffic strategies can be implemented even without any grant of emergency powers to the executive, he said such implementation will be slow and might not still be completed even after their term in office has ended.
Tugade further said government projects that are aimed at solving the traffic problems in the country may even be stalled by the long processes in the bureaucracy and even by some laws, such as, on the Right of Way.
To which some members of the House disagree.
“In other countries, no emergency powers were granted to the executive to solve the traffic congestion,” said Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman.
Tugade, on the other hand, said, “emergency power is not forever. It has a defined time. In fact, sinasabi ho namin noon at uulitin ko ngayon, yung emergency power noon was between two to three years kung naibigay ho noon yan [we’d been saying ever since, and I’m saying it again, the emergency powers (we’ve been asking then) was between two and three years, if it had been granted then].”
Earlier on Thursday, the DOTr presented to the House their P147-billion proposed budget for 2020.
A major portion of this will be allocated to the railway sector with P108-billion budget, or equivalent to 98.78% of the department’s total budget.
The department believes that improving the railway sector will be a big help in easing the transportation problems not just in Metro Manila but in other key areas in the country as well. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf
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