Drilon recommends special session in November for national budget approval

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 12, 2020   •   242

Senate Minority leader Senator Franklin Drilon is appealing for a special session in November to assure passage of the 2021 national budget by the end of the year.

The session in Congress will suspend on October 17. Drilon said the national government should not operate under a reenacted budget especially when the country is still dealing with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Senator said with the special session, Congress will be able to submit their version of the proposed budget by December.

“We will debate on the budget from November 9 to 13. We can finish it within five to seven days and allot two weeks for the bicameral conference. Congress can send to Malacanang the 2021 GAA by the first week of December so that the President can sign it before January 1, 2021,” he said.

Senate President Vincente Sotto III, meanwhile, is optimistic that there will be no reenacted budget as long as the Senate and the House of Representatives will do their jobs. He also agreed with Senator Panfilo Lacson on recommending the early resumption of the session in November for the deliberation of the national budget. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Bayanihan 3 talks OK but PH needs effective implementation of previous COVID-19 laws – Villanueva

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday said he is open to discussions on the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law but stressed that ensuring the effective implementation of previously passed measures to combat COVID-19 is also imperative.

Villanueva issued the statement following calls to have the proposed Bayanihan 3 Law be declared as an “urgent legislation” to curb the present surge of COVID-19 cases and to help alleviate the plight of workers and businesses affected by quarantine restrictions.

“I will support a discussion on Bayanihan 3. But having said that, let me be clear on where I stand on the mess engulfing us: Legislation is not the main solution, executive action is,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said.

Villanueva said the “main cures” to COVID-19 and its effect on lives and livelihood of Filipinos “are not waiting to be legislated, but to be implemented.”

“Case in point is the new COVID-19 Vaccination Law, a great law in need of good implementation,” he added.

The senator also noted that the virus seems to be spreading faster than the release of government aid.

The appropriations authorized under Bayanihan 2 was P165.6 billion and while this has all been released to agencies, Villanueva said that the amount obligated by agencies stood at a low P77.5 billion according to DBM’s February report to the Senate.

“At doon sa P77.5 billion, wala pang kalahati, o P38 billion, ang na-disburse ng mga agencies. Bakit may underspending?” Villanueva asked.

“Underspending is fatal. Budgetary savings will not save lives. Gastusin na po ang dapat gastusin para sa mga tamang bagay,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session of Congress for the immediate passage of the proposed Bayanihan 3.

Congress is on session break until May 17.

“Sakali pong magpatawag ng special session, handa po tayong sumuporta dito alang-alang sa ating mga manggagawa na walang trabaho at sweldo, sa mga pamilyang walang makain, sa mga taong walang-wala,” Villanueva said.

“Hinihikayat po natin ang gobyerno na maging listo at alerto sa pagpapatupad ng mga programang may pondo na sa 2021 National Budget,” he added.

Duterte to veto items in the proposed 2021 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to veto several items in the proposed 2021 national budget, the Palace confirmed on Friday (December 25).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the ceremonial signing for the P4.5 trillion national budget is scheduled for Monday (December 28). The Palace official, however, did not disclose which items in the national budget will be vetoed by the President.

“Sigurado po na magkakaroon po ng veto message. Pero I am not at liberty to discuss po kung ano itong mga items na ito (I am sure there will be a veto message, but I am not at liberty to discuss what theses items are),” he said.

The education sector will receive the bulk of the budget with P708.2 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.8 billion. Meanwhile the country’s health sector will receive P287.5 billion. AAC

President Duterte may sign nat’l budget on Dec. 23 or 28—Roque

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte may sign the 2021 national budget on December 23 or 28, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Roque confirmed that Malacañang has received a copy of the proposed P4.5-trillion budget for 2021 from Congress.

The submitted budget also includes the allocation for the government’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well as for the economic recovery of the country.

The bulk of the national budget, amounting to P708.18 billion, will be given to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), state universities and colleges, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive P694.82 billion, which can be used for rehabilitating roads and public infrastructure affected by the previous typhoons.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will get P287.47 billion.

The Palace official also assured that the President will thoroughly review the budget before signing. AAC

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