House makes exception for ailing Calida

Published September 23, 2022, 6:31 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The House of Representatives made an exception on Friday, Sept. 23 on the consideration of the Commission on Audit’s (COA) proposed 2023 budget on account of its ailing chairman, Jose Calida.

COA Chairman Jose Calida (PCOO)

The House terminated or concluded discussions on COA’s budget for 2023 during Friday’s plenary debates, despite Calida’s absence on the floor.

This absence was noticed by 4Ps Party-list Rep. Nonoy Libanan. Libanan heads House minority bloc, members of which have been very active in scrutinizing the proposed spending plan of the different government agencies.

According to Libanan, it has been a longstanding tradition of the House that heads of departments and agencies shall be physically present at the plenary during the debates on the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

In fact, Libanan was the one who moved to suspend consideration of the agencies under the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) since their respective heads weren’t physically present on the floor last Monday. They were in New York in the United States (US) as part of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s delegation.

Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, budget sponsor of COA, explained to Libanan why Calida wasn’t around,

“The reason is because, our honorable chairman Jose Calida is currently on medical leave and so that’s the reason for his absence. I know that because of a letter that he submitted to our [appropriations panel] chair Elizaldy Co dated Sept. 22, 2022,” Quimbo said.

“Would we have an information whether or not the medical leave of the chairman… the reason for which is life threatening or not?” Libanan asked the sponsor.

The lady solon replied, “He had been on medical leave since Sept. 1, 2022, so given the duration of the illness it would appear to be a not a mild illness.”

At this point, the minority leader chose not to give COA a hard time in connection with its budget.

“Considering the reason of the medical leave of the chairman and that the questions of the minority has been satisfactorily answered by the distinguished sponsor…I, therefore, move that we terminate the interpellation on the budget of the [COA],” Libanan added.

The plenary carried the motion shortly. Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Commissioner Roland Bondoc led the COA contingent in the House of Representatives Friday.

Calida is a former solicitor general.

Officials of the DBCC are expected to attend the plenary debates next week in a bid to terminate their budget proceedings.

The 2023 GAB–the subject of the marathon plenary debates–is worth P5.268 trillion.