The timely passage of the proposed 2021 national budget, not the House leadership conflict, is foremost in the mind of President Duterte, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President hopes lawmakers would pass the P4.506 trillion budget proposal especially since it will bankroll the government’s response and recovery efforts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Yan po talaga ang concern ng Presidente ngayon, hindi masyado yung liderato dahil ang kinakailangan niya ay itong COVID-19 budget niya for 2021 ay maapubrahan (That’s the concern of the President nowadays, not really the House leadership, because what he needs is the passage of the COVID-19 budget for 2021),” Roque said over DZBB Wednesday.
“‘Yan po talaga ang number 1 na nasa isipan ng Presidente na maipasa yung kanyang COVID-19 budget (The passage of the COVID-19 budget is the number one on the President’s mind),” he added.
The proposed national budget, that carries the theme “Reset, Rebound, and Recover: Investing for Resiliency and Sustainability,” was submitted by the Department of Budget and Management to Congress late August.
Roque explained that the government could not afford to have a reenacted budget next year especially since it needs adequate funds to address the pandemic.
“Nagkaroon na tayo ng mapait na karanasan hindi napasa on time ang budget. Nagkaroon tayo ng reenacted budget (We already had a bitter experience when the budget was no passed on time so we had a reenacted budget),” he said.
“Hindi natin kaya na magkaroon na naman ng reenacted budget dahil ang budget natin sa taong nakalipas wala pa pong COviD noon. So kung mare-reenact yun, mawawawala talaga ang ating COVID response budget (We cannot afford to have another reenacted budget because our previous budget was passed when there was no COVID yet. So if that will be reenacted, we will really lose our COVID response budget),” he added.
Roque made the remarks shortly after a majority of lawmakers rejected the resignation of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano as House leader, scuttling a term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco. The Taguig-Pateros lawmaker earlier offered to resign to allow Velasco to take over the speakership as part of a term-split deal endorsed by President Duterte.
Roque announced on state television Wednesday night that the President has decided to “stay out” of the House leadership issue and will instead respect the decision of the lawmakers.