SGMA can end budget deadlock — lawmaker

Published September 18, 2018, 5:09 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Ellson Quismorio

A House official believes that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo–an astute politician–can solve the current stalemate that’s delaying the plenary debates on the all-important 2019 national budget.

AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)
AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“I am confident that the House leadership will come up with a compromise that will satisfy all parties concerned,” said AKO-Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, leader of the 46-strong Party-list Coalition (PLC) in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday.

Batocabe, who had just transferred to the Minority Bloc, said Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Arroyo is capable of ironing out the kinks in the House budget process that has so far prevented the sponsorship of the P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2019 on the floor.

“That is the advantage of having a Speaker who is not only a political veteran who has weathered a lot of political battles, but a leader who is also sensitive to the needs of her peers and their respective constituents,” he said.

Arroyo, who served as the country’s president from 2001 to 2010, replaced Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker in July in dramatic fashion during the day of the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The second-longest serving Philippine president, Arroyo is on her third and last term as Pampanga congresswoman.

House appropriations committee chairman, Davao City 1st district Rep. Karlo Nograles was supposed to sponsor the GAB as early as 10 a.m. Monday, thus paving the way for the per agency debates on the proposed budget.

On Monday afternoon, Nograles told reporters in a chance interview that he was merely waiting for the go signal of the House leadership.

“It’s up to the Majority Leader (Camarines Sur 1st district Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.) kailan niya i-calendar ito (when he will calendar this).

“Basta ang committee report namin nasa floor, at dahil nasa floor (The committee report is on the floor, and because it’s on the floor), the leadership now will have to make a decision kailan namin ito iisponsor at dedepensahan sa floor (when they will have it sponsored and defended on the floor),” Nograles said.

“Basta ako handa na ako (As for me I’m ready), I’m ready to sponsor and defend the General Appropriations Bill),” he added.

A copy of House Journal No.18 dated September 11, 2018 showed that the appropriations panel’s Committee Report No.854 containing House Bill (HB) No.8169 or the proposed 2019 national budget had been read on the floor and subsequently referred to the committee on rules, which is chaired by Andaya.

The Majority Leader, which calls the shots on the floor, is usually referred to as the right-hand man of the Speaker.