LOOK: House of Representatives ready for Duterte’s 4th SONA
Robie de Guzman • July 22, 2019 • 1704
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is all set for the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte slated to be held on Monday (July 22) afternoon.
The red carpet has been set at the North Wing Lobby for congressmen, senators and other guests to walk on as they enter the plenary hall for the gathering.
Tight security is being implemented at the Batasang Pambansa complex ahead of the SONA. Security personnel and K9 units have been deployed at the exit and entry points, including the area where legislators and guests would enter for the opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress this morning.
The House is expected to convene at 10 a.m. for the opening of its session, when members would elect the next Speaker.
An additional X-ray scanner has also been placed at the entrance of the North Wing Lobby to ensure that no prohibited items will make it inside the complex.
House Acting Secretary-General Dante Roberto Maling, who serves as chairperson of the Steering Committee of Task Force SONA 2019, said they spent months preparing and implementing all the necessary details to ensure a safe, orderly and peaceful SONA this year.
“The House is fully ready for SONA 2019. We have ensured that all details for the Opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress in the morning and the President’s SONA in the afternoon have been considered and well taken care of for the safe, peaceful and orderly holding of these big events,” he said in a statement.
“These include the necessary internal and external security measures and requirements, protocol arrangements, parking restrictions, media coverage, other physical arrangements, prescribed and required attire, and final reminders to guests particularly with regard to their invitations, seat cards and car passes, among others,” he added.
Starting 4 a.m. (Monday), the House implemented the “No Car Pass, No Entry” policy for the entry and exit points. The Main and South Gate will be used for the exclusive entrance of vehicles of House Members, Senators, Congressional Spouses and their back-up, VIP guests, and House and Senate Secretariat officials.
The North Gate will serve as the entrance gate of vehicles of invited guests, OB vans and generator sets, emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and military vehicles, House shuttle buses and vehicles with “Drop-Off” passes.
Only those with SONA 2019 ID will be allowed entry to the building.
For the Joint Session of Congress in the afternoon, the House advisory highlights that there will be a one-kilometer “No Fly Zone” over the area of the House Complex from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The South Wing Lobby will be closed at 1 p.m. to visitors and Congressional staff. By 3 p.m., lawmakers and guests will proceed to the Plenary Hall in preparation for Duterte’s SONA which is expected to take place around 4 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
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)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.
Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.
He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).
“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.
The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
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