House prioritizing budget, pandemic measures
“Budget is really our Number 1,” Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said at an online press conference last Thursday afternoon when asked about the chamber’s priority bills.?
STAR/Boy Santos, file

House prioritizing budget, pandemic measures

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will prioritize the 2022 national budget and more pandemic response measures when it resumes session next month, according to Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.?

“Budget is really our Number 1,” Romualdez said at an online press conference last Thursday afternoon when asked about the chamber’s priority bills.?

The Leyte congressman revealed that the House would resume session for its third and final regular session under the 18th Congress on July 26 during the final State of the Nation Address of President Duterte.?

The annual national budget, which is drafted and proposed by the executive department, is first tackled and deliberated in the House before it is transmitted to the Senate for approval.

Upon approval by both legislative chambers, a bicameral conference committee shall finalize the proposal.?

Both the Senate and the House will then ratify the budget approved by the bicameral conference committee before it can be sent to the Office of the President for Duterte’s signature.?

Romualdez said the lower chamber would also prioritize measures pushing for economic recovery and seeking to provide assistance to Filipinos amid the pandemic.?

Meanwhile, he noted that the push for the proposed Bayanihan 3 remains even as the House already approved the measure on final reading.?

He said he and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco met with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Wednesday to tackle funding for the measure that seeks to provide, among others, a P2,000 cash aid or ayuda for all 104 million Filipinos, regardless of social status.?“We still have the Bayanihan 3.”

The Speaker and I were able to consult with the secretary of finance and we’re still hopeful that we can move,” Romualdez further said.?

But a principal author admitted that the Bayanihan 3 bill, which aims to provide funds amounting to P401 billion, may not be passed into law despite its approval by the House.?

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte believes the measure is “not likely to see the light of day” and will turn out to be a “waste of time,” based on the lukewarm response of senators and economic managers.

He cited the Senate’s reservations on the measure.?Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that even with the House approval of Bayanihan 3, the Senate is not rushing to pass it because the funds for the Bayanihan 2 Law are “still partly intact” and available for COVID-19 response.

?Sotto also said he was wary over the inclusion of the pension for military and uniformed personnel in the House version of Bayanihan 3 as this should not have been included in the measure.?

“Bayanihan 3 has turned out to be one big waste of time for House legislators. It was practically dead in the water as senators were in no mood to act on it,” Villafuerte alleged in a statement.?

The former deputy speaker also cited the lack of urgency on the part of the Palace in enacting the bill after budgetary issues were raised by economic managers.

?“The House-approved Bayanihan 3 bill is not likely to see the light of day as our economic managers and senators are cool to the P401-billion stimulus package. Worse, even the President’s own spokesman, Sec. Harry Roque, said Bayanihan 3 was not an urgent measure,” he argued.

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