"The interest of trapos should never take precedence over this."
It’s a shame President Duterte had to tell Congress to do their duty of passing next year’s national budget on time to ensure funding for the country’s recovery efforts from the global pandemic.
The House of Representatives cannot renege on its constitutional mandate to pass the national budget for the President to sign into law, the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
It is the lawmakers’ one single most important function, called the “Power of the Purse” which we hope they will earnestly use through government expenditures to address the dire needs of people in extreme hardship.
The President publicly warned of extraordinary measures to enact the P4.5 trillion national budget, disgusted by the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the House leaders to finish plenary deliberations amidst the continuing public health crisis.
The move of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to postpone the session to November 16, delaying the passing the 2021 General Appropriations bill and its submission to the Senate, did not quite sit well with the President.
Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Ping Lacson said there would not be enough time to scrutinize the budget proposal if the House goes on a break too early.
The abrupt postponement is believed Cayetano’s maneuver to prevent proceedings to replace him as House Speaker by Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco under the term-sharing “gentlemen’s agreement” brokered by Manong Digong.
The impasse prompted the President to certify as urgent the budget bill on Friday and called for a special session for Congress October 13-16 to get the job done.
ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Yap, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, assured that four days will be enough time to pass the measure to meet Manong Digong’s deadline.
“To pass the budget bill on October 16 is very, very viable. If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Yap said.
Yap said that as envisioned by the President, a significant part of next year’s national budget will be earmarked for the procurement of vaccines to stop further spread of COVID-19 and the improvement of laboratory and testing facilities.
It is precisely his persistence to deliver on his promises that has won Manong Digong the continued approval and support from the majority of Filipinos.
For the President, public interest or the people’s well-being cannot take a backseat to old, rotten style of traditional politics (trapos).
We can only hope that the lawmakers would come to their senses and prioritize government efforts for improving the public healthcare system, as well as economic recovery to alleviate the lives of millions of impoverished Filipinos.