House Speaker Cayetano assures timely 2020 budget approval

Robie de Guzman   •   October 18, 2019   •   259

House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano uses the gavel on stage at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 22 July 2019. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the proposed national budget for the year 2020 will be approved on time.

Cayetano said there is no reason to delay the passage of the budget bill, adding that its deliberation is the Congress’ top priority when session resumes on November 4.

“Wala tayong excuse, we have all the time to discuss the budget. May isang buwan na during the break, nirereview natin, nagpreprepare sa bicam,” he told reporters during an interview at the New Clark City sports complex on Wednesday.

Cayetano also said there is a continued interaction between the lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries to fine-tune the budget.

The House of Representatives approved the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget on third and final reading on Sept. 20 after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as urgent.

The House speaker also underscored the importance of the country’s economic rating and the need for programs to uplift the lives of poor Filipinos.

He said the Lower Chamber is set to tackle revenue bills before the year ends as well as a proposal to integrate programs of various government agencies that is seen to benefit poor regions in the country.

“The 20 poorest provinces palagi na lang silang poorest so sa 2020 we want to come up with 20 projects for the 20 poorest provinces. We are talking to the different agencies and departments to help,” he said.

Sotto assures timely passage of 2020 budget bill

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has assured that the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 will be passed on time.

Sotto said the Senate is on track in its calendar for the approval of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) as it resumed plenary deliberations Tuesday following its transmission by the House of Representatives.

“It was submitted on time. We are right on track of our timetable without sacrificing important issues being raised in the different departments,” Sotto said.

He also noted that senators have been given plenty of time to bring up and clarify questionable or ambiguous provisions in the budget bill.

Sotto said plenary discussions on the budget bill, including the period of interpellation, individual and committee amendments are expected to be completed by the last week of November.

The budget bill is also seen to be approved on second and third reading by next week to be followed by the convening of the bicameral conference committee by the first week of December.

“The bicameral debates will be unpredictable. We expect healthy debates among members of the bicameral panel as they thresh out and reconcile the differences in our respective versions of the measure. We hope they will remain level-headed and open-minded during the discussions,” Sotto said.

Congress is eyeing to have the proposed 2020 budget enacted and signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte before it goes on a break for the holidays on December 20.

Drilon, Robredo camp hit Cayetano’s ‘all talk’ remarks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon hit House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for his “totally uncalled for” remarks against Vice President Leni Robredo.

“I am saddened by his statement. Such comments are totally uncalled for, especially coming from the Speaker of the House,” Drilon said in a statement.

Cayetano earlier said that Robredo is “all talk” since her appointment as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

President Rodrigo Duterte last week designated Robredo to co-lead the government’s body against illegal drugs.

Since then, she has been meeting with several groups to float her ideas to address the country’s drug problem, such as scrapping the “Oplan Tokhang” and implementing a health-based anti-drug campaign.

Instead of criticizing Robredo, Drilon said everyone should support the government’s war on drugs and set aside politics.

“It cannot be denied that illegal drug continues to be a problem, notwithstanding the over 5,000 deaths from Operation Tokhang,” he said.

“The gravity of this issue on illegal drugs calls for everyone to set aside politics. In the remaining two and a half years of the administration, we should all work together to solve this problem,” he added.

The senator also noted that even Malacañang has vowed full support for Robredo as she undertakes this task.

“We expect the allies of this administration to do no less,” he added.

Meanwhile, Robredo’s spokesperson and legal counsel, Barry Gutierrez, said the vice president has only begun doing her new task and told Cayetano to stop criticizing if he can’t help her do her job.

Gutierrez also said the entire government should unite to eradicate illegal drugs in the country.

Senate targets to pass creation of Department of Disaster Resilience before end of 2019

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019

Retrieval operations in Itogon landslide

The Senate of the Philippines considers the proposed creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience as urgent following the recent earthquakes that hit North Cotabato.

According to the proposal of Senator Christopher Bong Go, the said department will handle all disaster-related responsibilities.

To date, several agencies including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are shouldering the responsibilities in addressing disaster-related events.

Several senators have expressed support to the said proposal.

“Nagkakaturuan eh, because it’s all coordinating council. Hindi po siya talagang departamento na nakatutok, for example, on post calamity and even pre-calamity,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“So yung sa disaster, ang importante diyan, may mananagot. Talagang may tutupad.  Walang turuan ng turuan,” said Sen. Imee Marcos.

Senate President Vicente Sotto said there is a big possibility that the bill will be passed before the year ends.

“Hindi siya masyadong problema hindi katulad ng ibang departamentong pinaplano na nagsasalungat duon sa right sizing bill,” Sen. Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Zubiri doesn’t see any reason why the approval of the proposed 2020 national budget will be delayed.

The senator hopes that the 6-month delay in the passage of the 2019 budget will not have a repeat.

“Ang consensus ng ating mga kasamahan sa Senado ay maganda naman, ipapasa natin as soon as possible time,” Zubiri said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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