Duterte: I don’t want to interfere in House affairs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2019   •   836

President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that he does not want to interfere with the affairs of the legislative branch but had to step in to end the impasse on the House Speakership.

“Nobody was sure to vote for whom, and they kept on asking who is the president’s candidate. So I shied away and said, no, if you can resolve the matter comfortably between you, do it,” he said. “I hate to intrude. But apparently, considering what happened in the last few days, and malapit na ang session (the opening of session is already near), I said… it’s time for me to talk.”

Duterte announced term-sharing between Taguig City representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque representative Lord Allan Velasco as House speakers.

The chief executive made the announcement on Monday (July 9) during the oath-taking of new presidential appointees.

“Your Speaker will be Alan Peter Cayetano. He shares the term with Lord Velasco,” he said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, Cayetano will lead the House for the first 15 months, while Velasco will take over in the next 21 months.

“[In] the next 21 months, the Speaker will be Lord Allan Velasco, with Martin Romualdez as the majority leader,” he said.—AAC

Duterte’s China visit to skip Fujian province

Marje Pelayo   •   August 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte and his delegation are set to fly to China for a working visit in response to the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It will be Duterte’s fifth visit to Beijing and his eight meeting with Xi.

The two leaders will meet on August 29 when they will discuss several agreements on education, science and technology, economy and social development.

The President himself also stressed that he would insist the Hague Arbitral Ruling during his meeting with the Chinese President along with other sensitive issues like the code of conduct and joint exploration in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“We cannot preempt what does the President will discuss in particular regarding the arbitral ruling. So, it will be his call during the meeting with the President with his counterpart,” explained Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre.

The Philippine delegation will also attend a business forum in China in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The President’s itinerary includes a meeting with Vice President Wang Qishan and some relax time in the opening of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Guanzhou on August 31 in support to the Philippines’ GILAS team in their game against Italy.

Meanwhile, contrary to earlier announcements, President Duterte will no longer push through with his visit to Fujian province where he was supposed to grace the launching of a university building as tribute to his mother, Soledad.

According to the President’s close in staff, this is not the right time for it.

“But for this particular visit, there was a plan and then the recommendation now is to move it at a later date because it’s more appropriate to be done at a later date and not at this particular time,” noted Robert Borje, the Chief of the Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)


House eyes holding marathon 2020 budget hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is eyeing to hold marathon sessions for the immediate passage of the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said.

In a statement, Romualdez said House members have agreed to work day and night from Monday to Friday to ensure that the 2020 General Appropriations Act will be approved by October this year.

“This will give the Senate ample time to scrutinize the budget approved by the House. Hopefully we can have a bicameral conference by early December, then approve the 2020 national budget before the year ends,” he said.

The House Committee on Appropriations, headed by Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, has started on Thursday the deliberations on the 2020 budget bill with a briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency panel that sets the overall economic targets, expenditure levels and budget of the government.

READ: House begins 2020 budget hearings

By September 12, Romualdez said the lower chamber would hold sessions on Thursdays and Fridays, past the regular schedule of Monday to Wednesday.

He added that the plenary session was also moved from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give way to four budget hearings scheduled by the Committee on Appropriations.

“We will hold four budget hearings daily at the committee level almost simultaneously. The hearings are scheduled at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.,” Romualdez said.

“House members may have to shuttle between hearings in order to maximize their participation in the budget deliberations. I am thankful that all the House members agreed to this schedule, which is really a tall order,” he added.

The lawmaker said he had also approved the request of Ungab to allow the holding of committee hearings on the budget even after the plenary proceedings have started at 5 p.m.

“This means that the appropriations committee may hold budget hearings at the committee level simultaneous with the plenary debates on other pending bills and resolutions,” Romualdez said.

“This will ensure that plenary deliberations on other pending issues, such as the vital revenue measures, will push through even as we are working round the clock on the budget bill,” he added.

Under Section 71 of the House Rules, congressmen are deemed present in a House session if they are attending committee meetings authorized by the House committee on rules, which is currently chaired by Romualdez as Majority Leader.

Section 35 of the House Rules, on the other hand, provides that: “Only the committee on rules and such committees to which it has granted permission, may meet while the House is in plenary session, has adjourned, or is in recess.”

Romualdez said that under these rules, the committee on appropriations “may continue with their budget hearings while the House is in plenary session.

“We are invoking the powers of the Majority Leader, as Rules Chairman, to enable the House to tackle simultaneously all the vital measures included in the President’s legislative agenda,” he said.

House begins 2020 budget hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019

The House Committee on Appropriations begins its deliberations on the proposed 4.1-Trillion national budget for 2020. | 📷 House of Representatives Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday started its hearing on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020.

The House Committee on Appropriations began its budget deliberations with a briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency that sets the overall economic targets, expenditure levels and budget of the government.

Davao City Third District Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the committee, earlier said the DBCC briefing is one of the most important aspects in the lawmakers’ work and duty to scrutinize the 2020 national budget bill.

“The macroeconomic assumptions to be outlined will help guide our policy makers and business sector to craft plans based on the government projections on economic growth, price stability, among others, including government expenditures, as well as general directions for the coming fiscal year,” Ungab said in a statement.

The Thursday’s DBCC briefing was participated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

On Friday, Ungab said officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will present their budget proposals to the committee.

Prior to the start of the House budget deliberations, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called for a major caucus with the members of the 18th Congress on Wednesday.

Around 160 lawmakers attended the meeting, which according to Cayetano, discussed the various priority measures laid out by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address and the setting of tasks and responsibilities.

“We discussed the various priority measures enumerated by President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address last month which will be included in the informal coordination meeting with the Senate and the Executive offices next week” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.

“After receiving the 2020 national budget yesterday, we are setting timelines and defining tasks and responsibilities to ensure that we get things done,” he added.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez earlier said they are targeting to hold marathon sessions, both in the plenary and committee level, to ensure the passage of the budget bill before the end of the year.

House leaders earlier said they are eyeing to approve the budget on October 4.

Romualdez said that by September 12, the lower chamber would hold sessions on Thursdays and Fridays, past the regular schedule of Monday to Wednesday.

He added that the plenary session has also been moved from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give way to four budget hearings scheduled by the appropriations committee. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

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