P4.1-T 2020 budget gets nod in House committee level

Maris Federez   •   September 9, 2019   •   646

The House Committee on Appropriations has approved the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020.

This, following the series of budget briefings that were conducted for all the departments and their line agencies.

Prior to its approval, the house panel conducted an executive session, which Committee on Appropriations Chair Isidro Ungab said has become a tradition in the lower house of Congress.

Ungab reported that the approval of the bill had been a breeze.

“There were no objections, only manifestations, madali lang na-approve namin,” Ungab said.

This marked the beginning of the plenary debate Ungab will defend the committee-level approved budget.

The plenary debate will pave the way for other congressmen to contest or question the appropriated fund in some government agencies.

With this, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has appealed for the cooperation of his fellow lawmakers for the immediate passage of the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, Ungab has earlier admitted that there had been attempts from other congressmen to insert around P70-B to P90-B in the budget for the public works projects in their respective districts.

“I have to be prank and honest. Mahirap talaga kasi malaki yung amount. Mahirap ma-entertain yung kanilang request,” Ungab said.

He assured, however, that there was no pork barrel inserted in the national budget.

The plenary debate is expected to run for two weeks, with the approval of the budget to take place before the first session break on October 4. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

Solon confirms manifesto circulating among lawmakers expressing support for Speaker Cayetano

Marje Pelayo   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Barbers confirmed on Monday (September 28) that a manifesto is now circulating among lawmakers from the majority bloc.

This is to support the leadership of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Under sa kanyang leadership ay gumanda ang imahe, tumaas ang rating at higit sa lahat ay marami tayong panukalang batas na naipasa na sangayon sa legislative agenda ng ating pangulo,” Barbers said of Cayetano.

[Translation: Under his leadership the image of the Lower House improved, the rating picked up and above all, we were able to pass a number of bills in support of the President’s legislative agenda.]

Barbers clarified, however, that he did not notice in the manifesto the inclusion of the term-sharing agreement between Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Allan Jay Velasco.

Kung mayrong palitan man o wala, sa aking palagay ay wala pa rin sigurong magiging epekto ito sa performance ng Kongreso dahil pangkalahatan itong performance na ito hindi naman naka-angkla lamang sa iisang tao,” he noted.

[Translation: Whether there is change of leadership or not, I believe it has no effect on the performance of Congress because our performance is collective and not anchored on one person only.]

For their part, the minority bloc has also signed a manifesto to show support for the leadership of Cayetano.

But on the other hand, Velasco said in a statement that the term-sharing agreement should be observed especially as this was done before President Rodrigo Duterte.

Velasco noted that the 15-month term of Cayetano is expected to end on September 30 so  his 21-month term should start immediately after. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

House suspends DOH budget hearing

Marje Pelayo   •   September 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House Committee on Appropriations on Monday (September 14) suspended its deliberations on the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH). 

Lawmakers seemed unconvinced by how DOH will manage its budget, particularly on funding rural health facilities. 

“Without a plausible explanation, walang malinaw na pagpapaliwanag dito sa pondong ito, Madam Chair, I move to suspend the approval of the budget of the Department of Health,” Anak Kalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor which the House Committee approved.

Defensor questioned why the agency is only giving a small amount to primary health care facilities such as barangay health stations when these are supposedly the first to respond to community health concerns.

“Pumunta ka doon sa barangay na iyon hindi ka magagamot doon [When you go to barangay, you won’t be treated],” Defensor argued adding that the DOH should focus on these barangay health facilities. 

“Focus doon ang pondo. Pagandahin talaga. Kesa iyong ganitong tinapon lang nila [The funding should focus on that. Improve the facility rather than wasting (resources)],” he added.

Bulacan Representative Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, meanwhile, believes something is wrong with the project.

“Nangangamoy ito na korapsyon [It smells like corruption],” he said.

For this year, the DOH has allotted P8.38B for its Health Facilities Enhancement Program while it proposes P4.78B for the said program for 2021.

DOH Undersecretary Lilibeth David answered that it could probably be that those which received small allocations were projects that are close to completion and only need few procurements.

“Equiping muna. The second is completing ang structure. Kunwari 90%, 80%, 70% na lang ang kailangang i-complete kaya nag iiba-iba ang amounts [First is equipping. Second is completing the structure. So for example, 90% to go, then 80% to go, 70% before completion so the amount varies],” she explained.

In response to David, Nueva Ecija 2nd District Representative Micaela Violago argued otherwise as she sees barangay health units that are lacking in equipment.

“Marami akong barangay health unit na walang gamit kaya ginagawa na rin talagang bodega. Walang kama, wala lahat, walang weighing scale, wala. Kaya sayang yung naging pondo ng building para gawin lamang bodega ng barangay [I have seen a lot of barangay health units without equipment so the structures are eventually turned into storage facilities. No beds, no weighing scale, nothing. So the funds are just wasting in construction of edifices only to end up as storage houses for barangays],” she said. 

The DOH is proposing more than P203-B for the year 2021, an amount higher by P27-B as compared to the agency’s budget this year.

The largest chunk amounting to P127-B will go to the Office of the Health Secretary while 35% of the budget amounting to P71-B will go to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) for its implementation of the Universal Health Care Law. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Cayetano, other solons to work from home after exposure to virus-infected Yap

Robie de Guzman   •   March 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other lawmakers and staff who physically attended the House of Representatives’ special session last Monday will go on self-quarantine after ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Yap Go confirmed he contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Yap earlier revealed that he attended the special session on March 23 at the Batasan Pambansa while his coronavirus test results were still pending. He, however, stressed that he took safety precautions as he became paranoid about his mild cough.

At least 20 lawmakers were physically present at the special session, including House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, Representatives France Castro, Edgar Sarmiento, Mikey Arroyo, Sharky Palma, Precious Castelo, and Janette Garin, Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu, LRay Villafuerte, Robbie Puno, and Dong Gonzales, Representatives Bong Suntay, Jon Jalosjos, Manny Lopez, Tonypet Albano, Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Mike Defensor, Blu Abaya, Bambol Tolentino, Cayetano, and Yap.

The said lawmakers confirmed they will work from home during their self-quarantine.

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