Roque explains why senators wouldn't dare allow a reenacted 2022 budget amid spat with Duterte

Published October 20, 2021, 12:03 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque doesn’t think Congress–in particular, the Senate–would allow a reenacted national budget to be signed for 2022, an election year.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (Photo from Harry Roque’s Facebook)

Roque was the sole guest of the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum Wednesday, Oct. 20, where he was asked if he thinks the ongoing word war between President Duterte and the senators would lead to a reenacted budget next year.

“I don’t think so. Let’s talk about brass politics. It’s not to the welfare of reelectionists, congressmen, and senators to have a [reenacted] budget,” Roque said.

In the latest episode of the “Talk to the People” public briefing on late Tuesday night, Oct. 19, Duterte challenged the senators to make good of their threats to slash the budgets of agencies that they deem to be uncooperative in the ongoing budget deliberations.

Malacañang has until before the end of the year to enact the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, which is a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response budget. However, the Palace and the Senate’s playing hardball with each other could derail the budget timetable.

“Let’s face it: they have personal stakes in that budget and they will have to pass it because they need the resources, all the resources that they can get for the elections. And I want you to read between the lines,” Roque said.

“So the first people who will want to see it passed are the senators given that there is quite a number of them either running for reelection or running for higher office,” he said.

Reenacting a budget means that the previous year’s budget figure would be reused for the current year. This practice is frowned upon, since it suggests that the legislators in Congress–the House of Representatives and the Senate–didn’t do their job.

The House has already approved the proposed P5.024-trillion budget–the largest in the country’s history–on third and final reading last month. This means that the ball is on the senators’ court.

“And secondly of course, there is public opinion. I don’t think Congress can take adverse public opinion if they resort to politicking as an excuse not to pass a COVID-related budget,” Roque pointed out.

The Palace mouthpiece reckoned that ultimately, it will be the solons–not President Duterte–who will be viewed as remiss if the proposed 2022 national budget isn’t enacted on time.

“Of course we’re relying on the budget next year also to deal with the ongoing pandemic and if they’re not able to pass it on time, the fault will lie [on] Congress and not the President.

“So I think again, because of my theory auto-limitation, they will do everything to pass it,” Roque said.