Proposed P3.757-trillion nat’l budget faces toughest challenge

Published September 16, 2018, 5:39 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Ben Rosario

The Duterte administration’s proposed P3.757 trillion national budget faces its toughest challenge since it came to power last 2016 as opposition congressmen grew in number following the change in leaders in the House of Representatives.

EPA / MANILA BULLETIN
(EPA / MANILA BULLETIN)

The proposed budget, embodied in House bill 8169 will be presented for plenary debates when the Lower House resumes session at 2 p.m. today.

Expected to scrutinize the third budget proposal of the Duterte administration are four minority groups although two of them are docile compared to the Makabayan and the Liberal Party blocs.

The two others are the duly acknowledged bloc under Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and the 14-man group under ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera.

Although widely believed as a “company union”, Suarez’s groups may bark up after acquiring at least 24 new members, mostly former members of the majority bloc whose presence in the Malacañang-backed group do not sit well with loyal allies of former president and now Pampanga Rep.Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

De Vera’s group, on the other hand, counts former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, who lost the House leadership to Arroyo and Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. of Camarines Sur.

The Makabayan bloc membership remains at seven whose presence in budgetary debates became more evident when Duterte feuded with the political Left.

On the other hand, the LP bloc strengthened the ranks of the Magnificent Seven under Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Headed by relieved deputy speaker and Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, the Aquino-backed LP bloc has at least 28 members, most of them majority bloc members during the Alvarez leadership tenure.

The House targets to approve the HB 8169 on third and final reading by October 12 before its scheduled adjournment.

Earlier, committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) said that as before, the House of Representatives is always prepared to answer the President’s and the Constitution’s call to pass the national budget on time.

“The House is always conscious of its mandate to approve next year’s budget in order not to hamper the delivery of basic services to the Filipino people,” Nograles said.

The appropriations committee spent a month scrutinizing the budget proposals of the different government agencies and departments.

Per the schedule prepared by the committee on appropriations, floor discussions on HB 8169 will open with the sponsorship speech of Nograles.

This will be followed by the debate on General Principles and Provisions.

The budgets of the following agencies have been lined up for tomorrow: Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Education (DepEd) and their attached agencies; Department of Finance (DOF), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Department of Tourism (DOT) and their attached agencies and corporations; Commission on Audit (COA), Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The allocations of other executive offices will also be tackled, namely: Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC); Governance Commission for GOCCs; Commission on the Filipino Language; and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts with the following offices: NCCA (Proper), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Library of the Philippines (NLP), and National Archives of the Philippines (NAP).

In his budget message to Congress, President Duterte said the country is now moving toward half-time in the period that has been given to him and his administration, to enable the Filipino people to experience the life that they aspire for, the life that they deserve.

“We are almost midway to the path that our people have chosen to traverse with us, one that will take them from mere hopes and dreams of the past to the reality of a better and more comfortable life, in a peaceful and more progressive nation today. We are finally poised on the bridge that will lead us to the bright future that we can actually already glimpse,” the President said.

Among the key budget priorities the President identified for 2019 are: 1) intensifying infrastructure development through infrastructure projects in and outside Metro Manila and in local government units (LGUs), and through Information Technology (IT) infrastructures; 2) expanding programs on human development; 3) enhancing social services through expanded educational opportunities, universal health for all, and social protection; 4) continuing provisions for the people’s basic needs by ensuring food security and securing meaningful employment; 5) rehabilitating Marawi and moving forward ; 6) building a more secure nation through hiring of more police officers and enhancing the capability of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and ensuring efficient administration of justice.

 
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