Roque justifies certification as urgent of Duterte admin's final budget

Published September 30, 2021, 2:32 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque justified on Thursday, Sept. 30 the certification as urgent of the P5.024-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB), calling it a “pandemic budget”.

(Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In a virtual press briefing, Roque said that the Palace certification–revealed by the House of Representatives–has the effect of doing away with three-day interval between a measure’s passage on second reading and on third (final) reading.

“Of course the intention is to give priority and expedite the passage of the budget law because yan po ay isang pandemic budget (because that is a pandemic budget),” the spokesperson said.

“Hindi po pwedeng maantala yung mga serbisyong ibibigay natin sa taumbayan sa panahon ng pandemya (There must be no delay in the services that we will give to the people in this time of the pandemic),” he stressed.

The 2022 GAB–the largest ever in Philippine history–will be the final budget bill that President Duterte will sign in his term. It is also an election budget, since the next national and local polls will take place on May 9, 2022.

The House members, who are tasked annually to craft the GAB based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacañang, could pass the proposed 2022 national budget on both second and third reading during the expected marathon session Thursday night.

The Philippines has been grappling with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) scourge since January of 2020. The Duterte government imposed an unprecedented hard lockdown in March that year, and since then the country hasn’t been able to fully reopen.

There have been three separate local surges of the disease, with the last one kicked off only last August due to the entry of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Although the reproduction rate and daily new cases of the disease have begun to go down, it has claimed over 38,000 lives since January 2020.