House revamp continues
“I will evaluate some of the posts and committees and see whether they are still performing or they should be changed. There are some posts that really need changes mainly because most of the posts require the trust and confidence of the Speaker,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said.
STAR/File
House revamp continues
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Reorganization in the House of Representatives will most likely continue as Speaker Lord Allan Velasco evaluates the performance of committee chairpersons.

He assured senators that the approved 2021 national budget would be transmitted to the Senate on Oct. 28.

“I will evaluate some of the posts and committees and see whether they are still performing or they should be changed. There are some posts that really need changes mainly because most of the posts require the trust and confidence of the Speaker,” he said.

Among the new chairmen he confirmed was Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo of the committee on energy.

In a related development, 21 members of the House minority bloc have unanimously elected Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod, as their leader, the first party-list congressman to hold such position in the chamber.

In an interview yesterday with ANC, Velasco assured senators that House Bill 7727, or the General Appropriations Bill, would be sent to them on Oct. 28 or Oct. 30 at the latest.

“We agreed on Oct. 28, best effort of the House. But Oct. 28 can actually be made Oct. 30. But I believe (House appropriations) chairman Eric Go-Yap has already committed that we will transmit the budget by Oct. 28,” Velasco said.

At the same time, the Speaker hinted that they are in the process of allocating more funds for the COVID-19 vaccine since the P2.5 billion earmarked for the program would cover only three percent of the population.

“So definitely that’s one of the things that we add on to, mainly because I believe that the President announced that 20 million people should be vaccinated but with the P2.5 billion, I think that’s just a small number,” Velasco said.

“Definitely the small committee should add more to that for vaccine,” the House leader said.

The Speaker also reiterated his promise not to allow illegal insertions in the allocations for congressmen, as he voiced belief “in fair and equitable distribution” even as complaints were being raised against ousted speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies.

“At the end of the day, I always believe in fair and equitable distribution. Meaning, not exactly equal for every district but depending on their needs,” Velasco said. “We will see, mainly because right now we are doing a lot of institutional amendments.

“After that the Senate will review also, they will scrutinize and then comes the bicam. A lot can happen in the bicam. Definitely we will push for fair and equitable decisions,” he explained.

“Let me assure you: first, that there is no pork in the budget. And second, the small group will only do constitutional amendments, mainly department and agencies asking for more budget – that’s their job,” the Speaker said.

House Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo, meanwhile, said the “vision of the minority will flourish” with Paduano’s leadership.

Paduano replaces Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., who resigned from his post following the election of Velasco as Speaker.

Paduano belongs to the 54-member Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. headed by Romero.

“He (Paduano) has always advocated for the welfare of farmers and fisherfolk, and pushed for protection of rice and sugar farmers amidst the liberalization of agriculture markets,” Quimbo said.

In a statement, Quimbo said they will continue to “remain loyal to the principles that mold the group in fiscalizing and in providing a potent force to implement check and balance in the House.”

“Rest assured that the minority bloc will continue working hard in pushing for laws for the benefit of the Filipino people, especially at this time of a pandemic where our lives are being challenged to adjust to a new, better normal,” she said.

“Members of the minority bloc may have differences due to party affiliations, convictions, beliefs and even ideologies, but it will always unite with regards to legislations that will redound to the ordinary Filipino,” Quimbo stressed.

No insertions

As senators prepare to wrap up their budget deliberations, Sen. Panfilo Lacson warned House leaders against tampering with the national outlay, approved on third and final reading by the lower chamber last week.

The Senate finance committee, chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, aims to finish hearings on the budget this week, while awaiting the House’s submission of its version.

Lacson expressed concern that the House “continues to tackle amendments via the so-called small group.”

He stressed this is not allowed under Article VI, Section 26, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution.

“The claim of the House appropriations committee chair that the ‘errata’ a.k.a. amendments will come from the implementing agencies and not from the individual House members will further muddle an already constitutionally infirm and error-filled budget measure,” Lacson said.

“No amount of technicalities and sweet-talk maneuvers can correct a flawed budget that is supposed to address the problems and concerns of more than 100 million Filipinos,” the senator said.

“It is time that we correct the mindset of the so-called representatives of the people in this regard,” he pointed out.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also stressed the House cannot introduce amendments to the proposed budget via “errata” after approving it on third and final reading.

“They’re arguing that position, but for us in the Senate, and this was already manifested on the floor last week, once it is approved on third and final reading, if the errata is material, wait a minute, this is no longer consistent with the constitutional process of legislation,” Pangilinan said over radio station dwIZ. – Paolo Romero

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