Sen. Lacson urged to identify questionable P20-B in proposed 2020 national budget

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019   •   248

Sen. Panfilo Lacson

A lawmaker in the House of Representatives wants Senator Panfilo Lacson to identify what he calls “parked funds” in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 as approved by the House of Representatives.

House Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymond Villafuerte reiterated that the lower chamber did not touch or changed anything in the proposed budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Yung sinasabing 20 billion, I think naka-line yan, hindi lang malinaw. Siguro kailangan lang linawin yan ng mga department. Wala kaming ginalaw or inamend from the NEP,” Villafuerte said.

To clear up everything, Villafuerte wants Lacson to identify the said questionable item in the national budget.

“May mga lumpsum, for example feasibility study, right of way, foreign assisted. I think he has to, makakatulong kung eemphasize niya kung alin dun,” Villafuerte added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, also said that all it takes is for Lacson to point out the questionable amount and the President will remove it.

“Tell Sen Lacson to point out the specific item in the GAA and the President will remove it,” said Presidential spokesperson Atty Salvador Panelo.

Conversely, Lacson is confident that the President will remove the questionable fund, like what he did in the P95-Billion fund inserted in the House level for the 2019 national budget.

Lacson said that he will be the one who will propose to have the questionable amount removed when it reached the Senate.

In the meantime, Congressman Villafuerte is hoping that the 2020 national budget will be deliberated upon at the bicameral conference by the end of November.

He said they would want to discuss the additional funds for infrastructure, health, and the areas affected by the recent earthquakes.

The house targets to have the budget enacted by the first week of December. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Senate OKs P4.1T 2020 budget bill on third and final reading

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020.

The budget bill hurdled the upper chamber after 22 senators voted for its passage with no negative votes or abstentions.

Among the amendments introduced by senators to the budget is a P32-billion increase for the fifth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, an additional allocation of P6-billion for the Last Mile Schools Program, and P5.17 billion for the Voucher Program for Private Senior High School program of the Department of Education.

The budget for state universities and colleges was also increased as well as for the Philippine General Hospital.

The Senate also provided the Philippine Army with additional budget for the activation of an infantry division to directly address the threat of the Abu Sayyad Group in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It also increased the budget allocation for the Defense department as well as the Philippine National Police for the anti-insurgency campaign.

The fiscal plan for 2020 was immediately passed by the Senate after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the measure as urgent.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the budget in September.

After the approval of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill, representatives from both chambers of Congress will convene in a bicameral conference committee in December to reconcile differences in the Senate and the House versions of the budget.

The reconciled version of the budget bill will then be sent to Duterte for his approval before the year ends. – RRD (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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.

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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