Speaker Cayetano defends additional P1.6B in HOR proposed budget

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2019   •   276

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Critics have been questioning the P1.6B budget additional budget for the House of Representatives (HOR) on top of the proposed P14B in the 2020 National Budget.

According to reports, the said additional amount will be added to the budget of all eight deputy speakers of the HOR.

But House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano clarified that such reports were fake.

“They want to remove changes from the fact that we had a very good budget process,” Cayetano said.

The House Speaker added that the big chunk of the additional P1.6B budget will be used for various projects and only a little portion will be added to the deputy speaker’s fund.

“It’s for enhancing our capability (in) research including the congressional budget and planning office,” Cayetano explained.

“It’s also to meet the requirements pag pinasa natin yung bagong (once we pass the) salary standardization law,” he added.

In addition, Cayetano said they are planning to create new congressional committees to which part of the additional amount will be utilized.

Likewise, they are planning to make enhancements in the facilities of HOR to highlight the features of the regions each HOR member represents.

Meanwhile, about P10B budget is expected to be added in the proposed 2020 National Budget.

The said amount will be used to procure palay which will amount to P3B; additional fund in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) implementation of the K12 program; additional budget for sports in relation to the upcoming Paragames and Tokyo Olympics; and to fund programs for protected areas in the Philippines.

The additional budget will be sourced from the aborted Barangay Elections and the Right of Way Funds. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

House pushes for Electronic Health bills

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 2, 2019

A medical staff member (C) reviews records of patients treated for leptospirosis at a government hospital in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 03 July 2018.  EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

The House of Representatives is pushing for the creation of an electronic health system to strengthen the primary health care system in the country.

House Committee on Health on Monday (September 30) created a technical working group (TWG) that will consolidate several measures seeking to create the country’s electronic health system and services.

According to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, there is a need to address the lack of information and medical record keeping.

“For Filipinos in general, it is not a usual practice to keep such documentation—whether of previous check-ups, diagnostic test results, medication, treatments, and procedures done, among others,” he said.

One of the bills pushed is House Bill 8 which seeks to establish the National Health Passport System and strengthen the primary health care system.

“As stated in HB 8, all Filipino citizens shall be entitled to a Health Passport to be used when a patient avails of medical and dental check-ups or treatment provided in government or private medical institutions,” according to House statement—AAC

Lacson questions P54-B allocation for House Reps in 2020 budget

Maris Federez   •   September 23, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday (September 23) questioned the P54-Billion allocated for House representatives (HOR) in the 2020 proposed national budget.

“In the initial information that we received, each Deputy speaker, 22 of them, will be receiving an additional allocation of P1.5-B. So that’s P33-B and each congressman will be given an allocation of P700-M,” Lacson said.

The senator sought to have the matter thoroughly checked to ensure that it is not a pork barrel.

Lacson claimed that he got the information from a member of the Lower House.

But based on the statement made by House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Joey Salceda, they are only allocating P100-M to each congressman, which, he said, is based on the need of their respective districts.

Lacson, however, said that the allocation is still questionable, as he is not sure if it had gone through the intense scrutiny of the lower house and the agencies that could be the recipient of such funds.

“Hindi naman dapat pare-pareho ang allocation sa district [Allocation for each district need not be identical]. It should be need-based and priority-based,” he added.

The senator stressed that the law provides that a government agency or a particular district should have already identified a project and the details of which are already itemized in the budget proposal before the said fund is released to them.

“Kung ii-introduce pa lang nila as amendments o individual amendments, lalabas bawat isa sa kanila may P100M [If they will introduce it as admendments or individual amendments, it will turn out that each of them will have P100-M]. Then, if it is not pork, I don’t know what it is,” Lacson further stressed.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, maintained that the fund is not a pork barrel, as it is intended for the construction of flyovers, seaports, airports, and other major highways in their districts.

He also argued that the Senate can scrutinize the budget in the bicameral conference.

“I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank na concern pa rin yung bawat congressman na hindi ma-zero or hindi maisahan yung kaniyang lugar at wala masyadong pondo. Pero walang nakatagong pork,” Cayetano asserted.

[I think Congressman Salceda was just being frank that the congressmen are concerned that their districts will not be left behind and be without a budget. But there is no hidden pork in it.] (from the report of Grace Casin) /mbmf

House confident of passing 2020 budget bill on Oct. 4

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives remains confident it will be able to pass the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020 on the targeted date of October 4.

The House plenary has been able to follow its schedule and completed deliberations on the proposed budgets of 39 government departments last week.

Among the government agencies with approved budgets were the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

It also approved the 2020 budgets of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Optical Media Board, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Credit Information Corporation.

Also approved were the proposed budgets for next year of the Judiciary, Ombudsman, Philippine Center for Economic Development, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Civil Service Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the Department of Justice.

The House also terminated deliberations on the appropriations for the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Racing Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Competition Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Department of Foreign Affairs.

The number of agencies with approved budget proposals represents 54 percent of the total 72 government offices under House Bill 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) scheduled for plenary debates that is seen to be concluded on Friday, Sept. 20. 

“At the rate we’re going, the House is on track to finish the 2020 budget before the recess on Oct. 4,” Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

House leaders have earlier said they stick to the original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on the first week of October.

This is to avoid the scenario of another reenacted budget like what happened last year.

Apart from budget deliberations, the lower chamber also touted the passing of four priority measures at a record time, including the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA).

Remulla credited this to regular meetings of House members to thresh out concerns and ensure that floor discussions were mainly about the policy and expenditure programs of concerned agencies.

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