With budget season in the House of Representatives about to start, an important question arises: Will President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who is temporarily holding the position of Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary, be required to attend the budget hearing for the agency?
The President’s potential appearance in the House to explain before solons the budget of the DA is an unusual scenario that was triggered by his decision to take on the agriculture chief portfolio in late June.
But veteran congressman, Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda doesn't think that the House would feel slighted should Marcos skip the deliberation on the DA's budget. He's the President of the Republic, after all.
"PBBM will be most welcome, of course, but we know he has the whole executive branch to worry about, so we will understand his absence," Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said on Monday, Aug. 22.
"That said, the heads of agencies usually are given the courtesy of being able to explain the overall vision of their agency budgets, but their executive or management committees are tasked with answering for the details," noted Salceda.
"What matters to us, then, is that agencies can answer the questions of our colleagues," he added.
Marcos voluntarily took on the role of DA secretary as a way to help the agency prepare for a looming food supply crisis.
At any rate, Salceda expects Vice President Sara Duterte to attend the budget deliberation of the Department of Education (DepEd), where she is the concurrent secretary.
Unlike the President, the Vice President of the Philippines traditionally holds a Cabinet post.
"We appreciate the presence of the heads of agencies, and VP Sara has been very kind to attend some House events," the Bicolano said.
The Housec of Representatives will receive Monday morning the P5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The NEP is the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), or the proposed national budget.
The per agency budget deliberations will begin in the House on Aug. 26.