Opposition solon fears 'railroaded' passage of 2022 national budget

Unless Congress gets back the power of the purse, Filipinos may again expect lack of transparency and abbreviated deliberations resulting from the railroaded passage of the national budget.

House of Representatives plenary

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate aired this concern following the call by the majority bloc for President Rodrigo Duterte to classify the 2022 proposed national budget measure an urgent administration bill.

The appeal to Duterte was made apparently as a result of the delayed submission to the Lower House of the National Expenditure Program for 2022.

Zarate said "making the 2022 proposed national budget classified as urgent by Malacanang may again result to a railroaded budget without being thoroughly scrutinized by Congress." "This again hinders transparency and, in a sense, Malacañang is reducing the House of Representatives as its rubber stamp as it goes through the mere motion of scrutinizing the budget as not enough time is given to analyze and discuss the budget,” he lamented.

The opposition solon stated; “This runs counter to the Congress supposed power over the purse,"said the progressive solon. “ The House Committee on Appropriations is expected to approve on Monday, Sept. 19 the proposed budget bill without any deviation form the NEP submitted by the Duterte administration.

Zarate noted that budget deliberations for the various government agencies were swift.

The progressive solon also cited that just the other week the budget briefing of the Office of the President was railroaded saying "it is emblematic of the lack of transparency under the Duterte administration."

"It is high time that we take the power over the purse back.It is very important for the Office of the President's proposed budget along with every aspect of the proposed budget to be open to interpellation and scrutiny because it is through this that Congress and the people may know if the funds they entrusted to the office had been disbursed based on their published intent," he said.

"Budget briefings and plenary debates are opportunities for members to perform their duties in the checks and balance of the different branches of government. If this is not done as mandated, then this is an abdication of the Congress' power of the purse, making it a rubberstamp or even a doormat of the executive," Zarate stated.