Congressmen to donate part of their salaries for Batanes quake victims

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2019   •   765

Photo by Dominic de Sagon Asa

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives are looking to raise some money to help the victims of twin earthquakes that rattled Batanes over the weekend.

In a statement issued on Tuesday (July 30), House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said leaders of the lower chamber have agreed to kick off a fund drive for the relief operations in Batanes, and urged their colleagues to donate a portion of their salary.

Each lawmaker is expected to contribute a minimum of P5,000 from his or her salary. The House, which has 300 members, is expected to raise at least P1.5 million or higher.

Aside from the monetary contribution, Romualdez said some congressmen have also expressed interest in donating relief goods collected from their staff and other House employees.

“It (contribution) has been the practice whenever a district is hard-hit by a calamity, in this case Batanes. This voluntary effort on the part of the congressmen to contribute has been done in the past through salary deduction. This has been initiated for the benefit of the casualties’ loved ones and injured residents of Batanes,” said Romualdez.

During a session on Monday, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution No. 139 expressing its “profound sympathies” and “deepest condolences” to those affected by the twin temblors that jolted Batanes.

The resolution also called on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other relevant organizations to expedite humanitarian assistance and restore normalcy to the affected areas.

The resolution was authored by Speaker Alan Cayetano, Romualdez, and House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, Jr.

A manifestation was also made before the plenary about the “signature sheet” that shall be circulated for House members so they can write the amount of their voluntary contribution.

Last Saturday, nine people were killed and 63 others were injured when strong earthquakes hit Itbayat town in Batanes. President Rodrigo Duterte earlier promised to give P40 million to help reconstruct its local hospital damaged by earthquakes.

House confident of passing 2020 budget bill on Oct. 4

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives remains confident it will be able to pass the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020 on the targeted date of October 4.

The House plenary has been able to follow its schedule and completed deliberations on the proposed budgets of 39 government departments last week.

Among the government agencies with approved budgets were the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

It also approved the 2020 budgets of the 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 and the Credit Information Corporation.

Also approved were the proposed budgets for next year of 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 and the Department of Justice.

The House also terminated deliberations on the appropriations for the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Racing Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Competition Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Department of Foreign Affairs.

The number of agencies with approved budget proposals represents 54 percent of the total 72 government offices under House Bill 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) scheduled for plenary debates that is seen to be concluded on Friday, Sept. 20. 

“At the rate we’re going, the House is on track to finish the 2020 budget before the recess on Oct. 4,” Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

House leaders have earlier said they stick to the original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on the first week of October.

This is to avoid the scenario of another reenacted budget like what happened last year.

Apart from budget deliberations, the lower chamber also touted the passing of four priority measures at a record time, including the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA).

Remulla credited this to regular meetings of House members to thresh out concerns and ensure that floor discussions were mainly about the policy and expenditure programs of concerned agencies.

House plenary debates on 2020 budget bill to start on Sept. 10

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to begin this week the plenary debates on the proposed 2020 national budget.

House Committee on Appropriations chairman Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said the sponsorships and floor deliberations for the budget bill are scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 10 and are expected to last until Sept. 20.

Ungab said the lower chamber plans to stick to its original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on October 4.

The House appropriations panel earlier reported it has completed in record time the hearings on the 2020 budget proposals of all government agencies.

Previous House schedules showed that the annual budget hearings usually ended on the fourth week of September.

Ungab credited House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for helping the committee ensure the timely passage of the budget bill.

During the submission of the National Expenditure Program for Fiscal Year 2020 to Speaker Cayetano, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Chairman Ungab, and other House leaders, the Speaker assured the House will make adjustments in its plenary schedule to afford more time for the scrutiny and deliberations on the proposed P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020.

“Under the effective guidance and leadership of Speaker Cayetano, everyone moved in accordance to his given task, and supported and coordinated with the leadership of the Committee on Appropriations which resulted in the early completion of the budget committee hearings last Friday, September 6. For that, I thank the Vice-Chairmen and members of the Committee on Appropriations for their hard work and sense of responsibility,” Ungab said in a news release.

He also thanked other lawmakers who helped in the study and review of the budget proposals to determine the necessity of their programs and projects.

Following the termination of the 2020 budget hearings, Ungab said the Committee on Appropriations is set to approve on Monday, September 9, the Committee Report on House Bill 4228 which seeks to appropriate funds for the operation of the government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1 to December 31, 2020.

House members push for a bigger budget for DOST in 2020

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019

The first Philippine-made train developed by DOST that takes the PNR Tutuban-Alabang route. | Photo courtesy of DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute

Members of the House of Representatives are pushing for a bigger budget for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2020.

The DOST’s budget proposal is P20.18 billion, which is P79.85 million lower than its 2019 allocation of P20.26 billion.

However, 2nd District Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. pushed to increase the DOST budget by at least P5 billion for all the provinces across the country.

During the budget briefing of the House Committee on Appropriations, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said the efforts of the department has raised the country’s rank by 19 spots in the Global Innovation Index this year.

The DOST Secretary also added that several initiatives of the department has helped address the concerns of the Filipinos. These include the Anti-Dengue Program, the Malnutrition Reduction Program, the creation of Hybrid Electric Trainsets, and others.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago also expressed hope for the DOST’s budget augmentation.

“I really lament that you have very meager budget…Science and technology should be our top priority,” Elago said.—AAC 

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